April Issue of Law Practice Today Features Diversity / Inclusion Theme

The April issue of Law Practice Today, the webzine of the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section, is out. It focuses on practical aspects of diversity and inclusion in the practice of law and the legal profession.

It’s quite a collection of articles, from an excellent set of authors, that looks at diversity and inclusion from a variety of perspectives, with an emphasis on the practical, not the theoretical. Highly recommended.

As someone who helped co-found Law Practice Today and a current member of its board, I can hardly be expected to be objective about it, so I’ll point to Jim Calloway’s post about this issue. I also guest co-edited this issue, so all pretense of any objectivity goes out the door. But, I definitely think it’s a great issue.

The issue also contains two articles I wrote or co-wrote.

The first is co-written with Gwynne “@econwriter5” Monahan and is called “Will Free Fit into Your Technology Budget? An Open Source Software Primer for the Solo and Small Firm Lawyer.” I’ve wanted to write something introductory and practical about one of my favorite topics, Open Source, and was pleased that I could talk Gwynne into co-authoring the article with me. Gwynne is both very knowledgeable about Open Source and an excellent writer. Once again, I found out again how much I enjoy co-authoring. For more perpsectives on possible use of Open Source software in law practice, check out this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast, with my usual collaborator, Tom Mighell.

I also contributed a new article that suggests that diversification and portfolio management should be the primary foundation for defining technology strategies and choices. It’s called “Putting Diversification at the Center of Your Firm’s Technology Strategy-Using a Simple Grid Approach.” The article also offers a simple grid approach to setting strategy. I’d enjoy getting some feedback on that article.

We’ve gotten great feedback on the issue so far, so I encourage you to visit the issue and read all of the articles.

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

Call for Articles on Diversity/Inclusion: April Issue of Law Practice

I’ll be guest co-editing the April issue of the Law Practice Today webzine (http://www.lawpracticetoday.org). The issue will focus thematically on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, more specifically practical approaches to these issue from the law practice management perspective.
We have some room for a few more articles, so if you have an article or a blog post that could easily be turned into an article, get in touch with me at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com (or post a comment on this post) and I’ll follow-up to see how we can work together. I’m especially interested in articles that look at these issues from the finance and marketing side of law practice management, but any topic is fair game if you have something that would work for this issue.
Be sure to check out the excellent March issue, with a succession planning theme.
Thanks for your help.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools
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Legal Ethics and Social Media – CLE Seminar in St. Louis

Lawyers using or interested in learning more about social media who will be in St. Louis on March 23 have a great opportunity to learn about social media and ethics and pick up a couple of CLE ethics hours. I’m excited to be one of the speakers on an excellent panel with legal ethics expert Mike Downey and The Bar Plan’s Christina Lewis Abate.
The seminar is called “The Ethics of Social Media” and the details can be found here.
We’ll cover differences between LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, the basics of how to use each platform, including privacy settings, ad purchasing and disclaimer requirements, plus how to avoid potential pitfalls including a review of recent case law and rules of advertising, malpractice avoidance, and model social networking policies. We’re also planning to have plenty of Q & A.
The pricing ($95) is great, especially for the number of ethics credit. There’s a special deal ($30) for law students.
The Bar Assoication of Metropolitan St. Louis’ Young Lawyers Division is sponsoring the event at BAMSL’s downtown St. Louis headquarters.
Highly recommended. Help us get the word out about this one. Hope to see you there.
BAMSL members may register here.
Can’t make it on the 23rd? Give the new episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast, “Social Media Common Sense,” a listen.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools
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Social Media and Internet Tips for Law Students – Upcoming Presentation

On Tuesday, at St. Louis University Law School on March 2 at 5:00, I’ll be speaking to law students, recent law school graduates and anyone else who might be interested about social media, the Internet and tegal technology with a focus on how you can use these tools to effectively launch your legal career. Phi Delta Phi is sponsoring the event.
I’ll take an informal approach, with lots of Q & A, and I’m planning to let the audience pick the topics they most want me to cover. In other words,I’ll see if i can “crowdsource” the structure of the presentation.
I’ll highlight some of my ideas from this post on advice for 1Ls and my latest ABA Journal column called “Saving Face,” but I expect to share a lot of other information based on my own experience and what I’ve learned over the years. I’m also hoping to learn a lot from the perspecitives of law students who are facing these tough economic times.
There are two places you can find more information on the presentation – on the Law School’s calendar page and the Facebook page for the event. There’s also an email address for information – pdp@slu.edu.
Please mention the event to law students or others in St. Louis who might be interested. It’d be great to see you there.
[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 Legal Talk Network. Twitter: @tkmreport
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By Request: Advice for 1Ls

December is “By Request” month at DennisKennedy.Blog. I’m invite you to ask your questions about legal technology and other issues I cover in this blog, or even stuff I don’t usually cover. I’ll my best to answer them during the month.
Here’s the question:
“My girlfriend is wrapping up her first semester at law school. Any words of wisdom?”
I’m going to assume that you are asking for advice for her and not for you.
I’m also assuming that you are not asking for wisdom about taking law school exams. However, I’ll note that Ashby Jones has a great new article called “What Makes a Good Law School Exam Answer? Law Profs Weigh In” that you might point her to.
I will instead assume that you are asking what advice I might have for a 1L who wants to position herself for a job during and immediately after law school, and a satisfying career after that.
I was at a holiday reception for the St. Louis Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel the other night. I spent some time taking with a law professor from one of the local law schools. I asked if this was the worst job market for law school graduates ever. The professor said that he thought it really was. He also noted that the numbers of people taking the LSAT has gone up dramatically.
Most interestingly, he suggested that the past graduating class and maybe the next one (or more) might lose the opprtunity to ever go into larger law firms.
That’s a thought-provoking comment.
However, if you consider the traditional approach law firms take on new associate hires, it’s actually a reasonable prediction. Larger law firms like to hire directly out of law school and keep associates in their “classes” (based on graduating years) as part of the lock-step process. The hiring process in many law firms struggles with people who take non-traditional routes or don’t fit into this system. In addition, firms often, for reasons that have always baffled me, like to hire directly from law school rather than bring in lawyers with experience. Don’t ask me – I’ve never been able to figure that out.
The prof’s opinion is that when law firms go back to hiring, they will probably cut starting salaries, but they will definitely go back to hiring recent graduates out of their summer programs. The result could well be that a couple of years of law school graduates have a drastically reduced presence in law firms and a large number of current law school graduates might miss out on the ability to join large law firms.
Think about it.
But that’s not what you asked.
The large increase in LSAT takers and law school applications is in no small part due to an expectation that the economy will turn in the next year or two and law students starting now will be perfectly positioned when law firm hiring returns to “normal.” I talked to several people in the last year who are taking exactly that approach.
That, of course, assumes that the legal profession and law firms simply returns to the way things were a year or two ago. It won’t surprise any reader of this blog that I don’t believe that it will. There are fundamental structural changes in the profession in process.
I have one word for law students today. It’s “portfolio.”
I read an article this evening by Alex Aldridge called “The Job Squeeze.” (hat tip to Jordan Furlong for the link) It’s a good analysis of hiring and employment trend inthe legal profession in the UK. I highly recommend the article.
The Money Quote:

Of course, worrying about all of this is futile for students enrolled on law degrees and Graduate Diploma in Law courses. Instead, graduate recruitment partners advise aspiring lawyers to devote their energy to making applications stand out from the crowd.

The article is disappointing in its lack of specifics about this key point. In fact, I don’t think you’ll impress anyone with what the article suggests: “Avoiding gimmicks – we get some awful ones, such as photo collages of applicants – and providing evidence that you are genuinely interested in law as a career. Something that demonstrates you have got a life beyond law helps, too.”
Instead, I urge law students to think in terms of putting together a portfolio rather than a resume. You want to be able to demonstrate your practical skills, your knowledge and your accomplishments in tangible ways, not simply put together a bloodless list of standard accomplshments on a standard resume. I was involved in law firm hiring for many years – most resumes aren’t that different from any other.
Portfolios also inevitably lead to networking. Resumes lead to lists of “references available on request.”
Here’s what I mean by portfolio – tangible evidence that you are serious about becoming a lawyer, assembled in a way to tell a compelling story.
How do you do that, especially in a tough economy, as a law student? Something as simple as a blog reporting on developments in an area of interest can lead, over a year or two, to articles, speaking opportunities and interviews in publications or even radio or TV. If you aren’t working part-time (and developing a portfolio with deatils of the work you do), you want to do volunteer work that is law-related, including ABA or other bar association activities. If you know what area of law you want to go into, look at showing initiative by attending continuing legal education seminars and asking questions and meeting peoiple.
Here’s my point:
You have two candidates for a tax lawyer position. One has the typical top-notch law student resume and a focus on class work and even law review. The second doesn’t have the same class rank, but excels in tax classes, has a blog on tax law developmetns, has volunteered to prepare tax returns for senior citizens, has attended several tax CLEs for practitioners during law school, and has been quoted about a tax matter in the local business journal.
Who am I likely to hire? The one with the portfolio, of course. Portfolio indicates passion.
Actually, if you work hard on building a portfolio, the connections you make will likely mean that the job finds you rather than you finding the job.
I was in law school in the early 1980s, which, until now, might have been the worst time for finding jobs out of law school. What wisdom and advice I might offer is based on what I learned from the many, many mistakes I made. If I had to do it again, especially in the era of blogging, podcasting and other outlets, I’d be think in terms of portfolio all the way.
There are other things, but most of them flow from taking the portfolio path.
Hope that helps. I welcome your comments and questions.
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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.
[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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