Reflections on 2014 College of Law Practice Management’s Futures Conference

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be inducted as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, joining a group full of people I have long admired and gotten the opportunity to speak, write and work with over the years.COLPM Induction 2 - 10730193_10152796951291407_5441207644036415288_n

Even better, I got to attend the 2014 Futures Conference held at Suffolk University School of Law. Suffolk could not have been a better host and the program – a combination of TED-type talks and brainstorming sessions leading to a “Shark Tank” competition was quite fun, giving both the opportunity to learn and the chance to meet and collaborate with many other attendees. My thanks to everyone involved with the conference.

Tom Mighell and I devoted a recent episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast – “The College of Law Practice Management’s 2014 Futures Conference” – to our reflections on the conference and I recommend it for your listening.

Deborah Murray, on the Law Firm 4.0 Blog, has posted notes from the sessions and speakers and a great list of links to posts about the conference from other attendees.

The Futures Conference is an annual event. I recommend that you keep it on your radar as a place you might want to be in 2015.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference 2011

Here’s a great conference for anyone interested in marketing a law firm or a law practice. The ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference 2011 will take place on November 8 & 9 in Philadelphia.

The Conference is called titled “Reputation, Referrals, Rankings,” and has a great agenda of timely topics, including:

Tuesday, November 8

  • Keynote #1: Lie to Me! “Emotion Management” of Your Marketing Will Invite Trust, Not Contempt
  • ROI: Examining the Return on Investment for Business Development Spending
  • The Business of You – Surviving and Thriving in Big Law
  • Luncheon: Effects of Rankings & Ratings on the Legal Profession
  • An Ethics Guide to Lawyer Marketing
  • The Power of Video in Lawyer Marketing
  • Golden Gavel Awards Ceremony and Reception

Wednesday, November 9

  • Keynote #2: “In Search of…Lawyers” How the Internet Has Changed Everything
  • Social Media: Does Your Firm Marketing Plan Need A Face Lift? (I’ll be Joining Tom Mighell and Tim Stanley on this panel)
  • Associate Business Development Training
  • Luncheon: 10×10 – 10 Topics, 10 Presenters, 10 Minutes Each. (It’s like speed dating, but better)

The best news is that there is still time to register and some seats still available. It’d be great to see you there.

For more information, see the conference website here (conference brochure).

Also, there’s also still time to register for the replay on November 3 of the very popular LinkeIn for Lawyers webinar Allison Shields, Michelle Golden and I presented in August. Details are available on the ALI-ABA website.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Speaking at St. Louis U Law School on Saturday

The American Bar Association’s Law Student Division is holding what looks to be a great conference this Saturday at the St. Louis University School of Law. I got the chance to volunteer to speak – and I couldn’t resist. In these difficult economic times, I feel it’s important to do what I can to help law students. People helped me while I was in law school, and it’s always been important for me to do what I can.

Details on the event are here. It looks like registration is closed, but I’d guess they might be able to find a place for for you if ask.

The sessions look really good and address important issues for law students.

I’ll be part of a panel on practical networking in the afternoon. I see this as a Q & A session. I want to cover both social networking and regular networking. I’ll also be part of a lunch session called “Lunch with Experience” where I’ll share my observations about legal careers and answer questions.

It sounds like fun for me and I expect to learn a lot in addition to sharing some of what I know and have observed over my legal career. If you read this blog and are there, introduce yourself and say hello.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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The Freemium Practice of Law and IgniteLaw 2011

I did a presentation called “The Freemium Practice of Law” at IgniteLaw 2011 last Sunday night, produced by my good friends Matt Homann and JoAnna Forshee.

IgniteLaw takes a unique approach to presentations – 12 presenters each presenting for 6 minutes using only 20 slides apiece. And the slides advance automatically every 18 seconds.

It’s a challenging format for any speaker, no matter how experienced, especially if it doesn’t fit your usual style. Perhaps I understate that. It’s the speaking equivalent of riding in a top fuel dragster.

I found the presentation fun – in a challenging sort of way – but quickly struggled with time management. I got my points made, but not quite in the way I had hoped. My main points seemed to get across and I hope I was able to contribute in a small way to what was a fun evening with lots of high-quality presentations.

The videos will be posted soon, but I thought it might be fun to post the final version of the “rehearsal script” I had written. On that evening, the “script” turned out to be more ambitious than I’d hoped it would be (especially since I couldn’t refer to it), but I really liked the way this version of the script read. See what you think.

The Freemium Practice of Law – Rehearsal Script

1. Several years ago, when I was in the private practice of law, I had a meeting with a potential new client, a technology start-up. Things went well and they wanted to hire me. The initial project would be preparing terms of use and a privacy policy for their website.

2. I gave them an estimate and the president of the company joked that lawyers probably all used the same base documents and just changed the company names. Or at least we created documents with one push of a button. We laughed, although I felt the need to mention that even standard documents had nuances.

3. I thought a lot about that client’s view of legal work, especially documents, and the question kept coming back to me: “If clients assume we can use technology in this way and, technically, we can, why aren’t we”? I first implemented document assembly more than 20 years ago, so the issue is less technology than business model.

4. One of my favorite innovation techniques is to reverse my assumptions. I recently listened to a podcast with William Ury, co-author of a great book on negotiation. He said, “to change the game, you must change the frame.”

5. Here was my reversal. What if standard documents actually were provided to clients for free, perhaps as part of a service package? How would that work? I didn’t get very far myself, but Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson wrote a book in 2009 called “Free” that looked at the growing Internet phenomenon of successful businesses based on giving away what would traditionally be core products and services for free, and then making money in a variety of other ways.

6. Anderson’s book tells about Monty Python deciding not to sue the thousands of people who started to put video clips from their shows and movies on YouTube. Instead, Monty Python created its own YouTube channel and made high-quality video clips available for free. In exchange, they simply asked people to consider buying their products. The result: a 23,000% increase in DVD sales in 3 months, even though they were giving the same video content away.

7. That’s Freemium. Make something available for free, use that to extend your reach and audience, and then provide options for people to willingly pay for enhanced value. My definition of freemium tonight would be: Giving away “something” in order to create educated customers who better understand how to use your services and products in ways that better help themselves and for which they will happily pay to do so.

8. There’s been a lot of discussion about Richard Susskind’s custom vs. commoditized approach and you’ll be hearing more about that in the next few days at TECHSHOW. The most interesting thing about freemium, at least to me, is not so much that it will work in both contexts, but that I think it can work extremely well in the custom context.

9. Another example. Open Source software and Larry Lessig’s Creative Commons licenses. The free “something” is the software or the standardized license. The Open Source model, where the software itself is available for free, but a company like Red Hat can be quite successful selling maintenance, support, consulting services, and even T-shirts around the software, is perhaps the best example of the freemium approach.

10. Stewart Brand famously said, “Information wants to be free.” We clearly live in a world where we expect to get digital versions of music, video, books and information for free. How do lawyers fit into that world?

11. My favorite new band is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They let people post recordings of their live shows on the Internet. I doubt that I would have bought any CDs or even known of them if not for this approach. Now, I buy albums and would attend a show in a heartbeat. Bands can now be thought of as music services providers, giving away what we once thought of as core content and value – the music – to create revenue from shows, merchandise and other channels.

12. Now think about a “legal services provider” model. Law is certainly an information business. Are we like music? Encyclopedias? Newspapers? Other fields challenged by Internet models, aging business approaches and innovative competitors? Change the frame, change the game.

13. Lawyers often will say that clients buy documents or hours – a lawyer-centric view. When I did estate planning, I concluded that, at heart, clients were really buying peace of mind – assurance that their family would be taken care of after they were gone. In other practice areas, they might also be buying things like judgment or risk management – something they’d happily pay more for than a document or a unit of time.

14. That is the big disconnect between lawyers and clients and where the opportunity for freemium law practice comes into play. Change the frame, change the game.

15. Some ideas. Start with Anderson’s book. It has plenty of ideas that might Anderson has a lot of freemium ideas in his book that could apply to the practice of law. Here’s one of mine to start you thinking – moving from highlights to insights to personalized. Highlights: a free annual summary of important cases prepared by an associate. Insights: an audio or video where partners explaining why the cases matter. Personalized: Half-day customized presentations where your best people show a client’s legal and executive team how to address those new cases.

16. Barriers. Oh, there are a few. Not done before. It’s change. How do we bill? Bar regulation still applying a 20th century framework to 21st century client needs. Don’t underestimate – these will be difficult frames to change, but freemium is for innovators who like challenges.

17. It strikes me that simple technology can drive this. Document assembly has been around for years. Second graders are making videos these days. So much can be delivered easily via the Internet for free.

18. Where do you get ideas other than buying Matt Homann a cup of coffee? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Bryan Cave’s Trade Zone extranet application as a model. Other professional services firms, authors and consultants have successful models. Talk to young people, see what’s going on outside the US, and get a diversity of opinions.

19. Let me emphasize that I’m not for a second advocating a wholesale freemium approach. However, I do think that economic survival for the long term depends on taking a diversified portfolio approach. Using free to create enhanced-value freemium revenue streams should be one part of your portfolio.

20. 3 action steps for you:

1. Read Chris Anderson’s book. Even better, go to iTunes and get the audio version for free, and see if you go ahead and buy the book.

2. Carve out 30 minutes with a piece of paper and brainstorm ways you might try free and freemium, starting with places where you already heavily discount or write-off fees.

3. Change your frame and see if it changes your game

IgniteLaw 2011 was fun, fast-paced and informative. I congratulate Matt, JoAnna, all the other presenters and everyone else involved for putting on such a great event. And it was especially great to meet some other Grace Potter and the Nocturnals fans.

I’m hoping to post some reflections on TECHSHOW 2011 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

Integrating Practice Management Tools in Law School

Tom Mighell and I have recorded another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast and it’s now available on the Legal Talk Network and on iTunes, with an RSS feed here. The episode is called “Integrating Practice Management Tools in Law School” (show notes here), and it’s sponsored by Clio. A special thank you to readers of this blog who listen to the podcast – consider trying out an episode or becoming a regular subscriber through iTunes or our RSS feed.

Here’s the episode (#42) description:

With law firms cutting back or eliminating summer internships and law schools focusing on teaching theoretical legal concepts, law students find themselves in a difficult position in a difficult market. How can law students learn needed practical skills, including how to use legal technology? In this episode, co-hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell talk to Professor Clark D. Cunningham from Georgia State University College of Law, Jonathan Call, law school student at GSU College of Law, Jack Newton from Clio and Andy Adkins from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, about the exciting and innovative efforts to bring practical skills training, including legal technology, to law schools and law students.

Tom and I have long had an interest in ways education about legal technology can be improved for lawyers and law students. I especially enjoy the chances I get to talk to law students about legal technology. In addition, Tom and I are contributing editors for the new Legal Skills Prof Blog, part of the great Law Professor Blogs Network.

When we learned about the experiment the Georgia State University College of Law was doing with our podcast sponsor, Clio, we decided that it was a perfect topic for the podcast. A big thank you to Christy Burke and the great team at LegalTalkNetwork (especially the fabulous Kate Kenney), we put together a big show with four guests to talk about the project, put it in context, and, we hope, point to ways other schools might try similar experiments.

We divided the episode into two segments. In the first, we get an “on the ground” report on the Georgia State University School of Law experiment from Professor Cunningham and Jonathan Call. In the second, Jack Newton of Clio gives us his observations and insights from the vendor perspective and our good friend, Andy Adkins, adds his vast knowledge and perspective to talk about where this experiment fits into the history of bringing technology to law students, law professors and law schools.

This is exciting stuff. And it’s important work. If we are going to significant change in the use of technology in the legal profession, it is likely to evolve from these types of experiments to get the next generation of tools into the hands of the next generation of lawyers.

The one great insight I got from this conversation, and I should have thought of this before, is that because cloud-based tools can be used in schools without the need for additional computer infrastructure, it’s possible to move quickly on these types of initiatives.

A big “thank you” to all our guests. Let us know what you think about this episode.

We end the podcast with a Parting Shot about our involvement with the Legal Skills Prof Blog and how we are excited to be part of that project. Check out the blog here.

Give our new episode a listen and let me know what you think. Show notes for the podcast are here. And try some of the back episodes as well. You can also now follow the podcast on Twitter at @tkmreport.

[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