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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 ‘Legal Profession’ Category

Law Practice in a Time of Great Economic Turmoil – Roundtable Discussion

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

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The graphic above is a tag cloud from Wordle that I generated from the article, What Should You Do Now? A Roundtable Discussion on Law Practice in a Time of Great Economic Turmoil, which is just one part of an excellent new issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine that you should run, not walk, over to see. Your time spent there will be well-rewarded.
The roundtable article arose from an idea I had to put together a roundtable discussion of some of the most interesting thinkers (and doers) on law practice management issues about the most top-of-mind topic of the day – what should lawyers and law firms (and the profession in general) be doing in this tough economic times?
I wanted to pull together some practical answers to some of the most basic questions that everyone I knew was either grappling with or trying to pretend didn’t exist. The latter is more common, while the former is more recommended.
My practical problem was pulling together a group of experts in the face of a very tight deadline. Fortunately, I found a group of eight who were as generous with their time as they were with their expertise and insights.
Frankly, it’s a stellar cast: Tom Collins (formerly of the Fabulous More Partner Income blog, who I coaxed out of his novel-writing retirement), Jordan Furlong, Patrick Lamb, Bruce “Adam Smith, Esq.” MacEwen, Patrick McKenna, Edward Poll, Allison C. Shields and Merrilyn Astin Tarlton.
And this stellar cast delivers well beyond my high expectations of them. I play the role of moderator and tried to ask the questions that seem to be on most lawyers’ minds.
Here’s a summary of the piece:

The economic turmoil rumbling through the land has lawyers facing layoffs, uncertainty and flat-out fear. In this roundtable discussion, our panel of law practice management experts share their expertise, wisdom and practical tips about what you need to do right now.

There are six parts to the conversation:
1. The Nature of the Crisis – Uncharted Territory.
2. Tell-tale Signs – When Do You Need to Act?
3. Taking a Prudent Approach – Setting the Right Priorities.
4. What Steps Do Make Sense? Some Practical Advice.
5. Predicting the Future.
6. Best Practical Tips.

There are many, many “money quotes” from this article, but let me give you this one from Merrilyn Astin Tarlton:

Convene a meeting of your firm’s decision-makers tomorrow. Agree together to cease hand wringing and start planning. Don’t leave the room until you have a short list of things that must be done and the names of the people who will do them – plus a deadline. Hold each other accountable. Switch from saying “What are we going to do?” to “Here’s what we’re going to do!”

As we say in the article, panic is not a strategy.
I’m proud of this article and highly encourage you to go over to the article and read it from beginning to end. Even better, work your way through the same questions I asked the experts and come up with your own answers to both those questions and the fantastic list of hard questions that Patrick McKenna provides as part of the article.
I put the graphic of the tag cloud at the top of this post for three reasons. First, I’m really intrigued by the visual summary of the article that the tag cloud provides (note that the importance of the word “clients”). Second, the graphic was left off the end of the article, making my last comments in the article quite confusing (at least until it’s fixed). Third, to prove that I actually do know the difference between tag clouds and cloud tags, even though I have a tendency to type “cloud tags” (and I hope to get that corrected in the article as well).
Highly, highly recommended. And just one more example of why I love roundtable articles.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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.
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DennisKennedy.Microblog

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

I’ve noticed a lot of discussion in the last week or so about ways lawyers (and others) might use Twitter. There have been some good primers on Twitter and Kevin O’Keefe, in particular, has talked about ways lawyers might use Twitter.
I’d suggest that you start with Adrian Lursson’s post listing lawyers who use Twitter and Grant Griffiths’ Twitter tutorial for lawyers if you want to get some more background.
Here’s an example of Twitter use that I’ve found compelling.
I’ve experimented with Twitter (I’m @denniskennedy on Twitter) for a while now – actually quite a while – and I have a few thoughts on the subject. They aren’t too original, frankly.
Twitter is another possible channel of communication that for the right people with the right audiences might be quite successful for certain purposes. For others, it probably won’t be very useful. And, as Jerry Lawson once presciently said about lawyer blogs, for some lawyers, it would be a disaster.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve found it easier lately to maintain a regular presence on Twitter than on my blog or other channels.
My friend, Marty “The Trademark Blog” Schwimmer, recently pointed me to a possible use of Twitter that I found compelling and launched the subject mentioned in the title of this post.
Marty started using Twitter to create a companion “microblog” for The Trademark Blog. I emailed him immediately when I saw it to tell him that he was a genius. He deflected my praise and said that he got the idea from Techmeme, but I’ll still give him credit because we talked about some of the nuances of this approach over the last two weeks.
Typical of my approach, I became convinced about how the idea would work for my blog and then, rather than hopping right in, I let the idea incubate for a while and thought it through. At least for a couple of weeks.
Here’s my thinking.
I’ve said before that the true difficulty of blogging is not the time commitment or the usual things people ask bloggers about. No, the real burden of blogging is the “everydayness” of blogging. How do you maintain a consistent, regular presence?
This is especially true when your style of blogging centers on longer, essayish posts. Or, God forbid, you commit to a series of posts. That final unwritten part (or two) of my series on “my new laptop computer is an iPod Touch” has blocked many a new post for me, as has the yet unwritten ILTA reflections post.
My idea then was to use Twitter as a microblog that worked with this blog. The Twitter blog will be a place for short items – quick links and observations of the “one quick thing” nature (another of Marty’s great ideas). Then, to integrate with this blog, I’ll collect them every week or so into a post on this blog with its own category.
It’s a new and different approach, and definitely an experiment. I also expect it to find its own, somewhat different, audience. It can also see the Twitter posts turning into seeds for extended posts on this blog. I’m also planning to try using the hash tag #legaltech as a way to help people find the posts.
How to find the new DennisKennedy.Microblog? It’s at @dkennedyblog (the Twitter character limit on user names got me there). I start there with the obligatory reflexive post and, of course, the obligatory Babylon 5 reference.
I welcome you to the new experiment and invite you to follow the new microblog. Let me know what you think about it.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the book’s companion website at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com.
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When a Lawyer Has to Leave a Law Firm: Reputation and Other Issues

Monday, July 7th, 2008

As this recent article indicates, lawyers are more than a little nervous about job security today (I take the stats with at least a grain of salt, but the trend is definitely interesting). That’s no surprise in a time of shaky (or worse) economic news.
As Carolyn Elefant notes, there is far less guidance for lawyers on how to leave a job – and to leave it professionally – than there is on how to find a job. Her new article, “Don’t Neglect Your Reputation When Leaving A Firm,” is an excellent addition to the resource list and especially timely in this environment. It also gives me another chance to recommend her book, Solo by Choice.
The money quote from the article:

Last impressions matter as much as first ones. Whether you’re moving on to better pastures or you’ve been forced out, take care to leave your job with your most important asset intact: your reputation.

Carolyn’s post about the article kindly mentions the chapter on leaving a law firm I wrote for the most recent edition of the ABA’s Flying Solo book and reminds me how surprised I was at how well-received that chapter was and the nice comments about it I got after the book was published. At the time, there definitely was a dearth of helpful information on the topic, especially on the issues that can arise even in the normal friendly departure from a firm.
Leaving a firm, especially when it’s not a voluntary decision, but even when it isn’t, is a hectic, confusing and disorienting time. There are a lot of issues that arise in the best of situations. In a down economy where there are layoffs and firms in economic difficulties, these issues can become quite complex and difficult. You have to be prepared to land on your feet. Carolyn’s article will introduce you to the types of questions you need to be asking yourself. Highly recommended.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here.
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Competitive Intelligence Roundtable Article

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Just posted on the online version of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine is one of the best articles I’ve ever been a part of. It’s called “Competitive Intelligence Roundtable: CI Tactics, Tools and Lessons to Be Learned.”
I asked a who’s who of experts on competitive intelligence in the practice of law (Mark Beese, David Bowerman, Cynthia Cheng Correia, Ann Lee Gibson, Mark Greene, Sabrina Pacifici and Meredith Williams) to participate in a roundtable discussion of the basics, practical tips and lessons learned about the use of competitive intelligence. To my delight, they all agreed to participate and the result is one heck of an article from which I learned a ton of things and so will you. I’m the article’s moderator and a quasi-participant.
In the same issue is Ann Lee Gibson’s How to Create and Use Competitive Intelligence: 45 Tips for Law Firms, a helpful CI primer to read as an intro to the roundtable article.
If you are familiar with CI, you’ll benefit from the wisdom of this group. If you don’t know anything about CI, these article will get you up and running. IF CI wa not on your radar, after you read these articles, it will be.
Highly recommended.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Debuting at the 2008 ABA TECHSHOW: The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.
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Leadership Advisory Board

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

I’ve been a fan and a reader of everything Patrick McKenna of the Edge Group has written for many years. An Edge Group training course I took on rainmaking while at The Stolar Partnership was very important in my professional development. It was quite a thrill when Patrick attended the initial LexThink event and I got to meet him in person.
So, when Patrick lets me know about something new that he finds innovative and exciting, I’m all ears.
His latest project, with Baker & Daniels’ Chair Emeritus Brian Burke and Managing Partner Magazine, is the Leadership Advisory Board. The Board is a service for new law firm managing partners to get advice from experienced and knowledgeable managing partners through an interactive forum.
I’ve met a good number of young managing partners in the last few years who have talked to me about their wish to have a way to learn more about how to manage firms, get advice for the challenging questions they face and find some mentoring. Patrick aptly has described it as a “safe sounding board.”
It looks like a case where need meets solution, which, given Patrick’s involvement, doesn’t surprise me in the least. This development is one to watch.
And, the Board, to me, gives us another glimpse of what Law 2.0 developments might look like.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming Soon: The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.
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Tom Collins on Law Firm Management Blogs

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

A special welcome to first-time visitors who found this blog via Tom Collins’ post on Recommended Blogs for Those Involved in Law Firm Management on the More Partner Income blog.
It’s always nice to have your work recognized and I appreciated Tom adding this blog to his very useful list of recommended blogs. It’s great to find my blog on such an impressive list and I appreciate Tom’s nice comments about me.
I’ve definitely noticed more interest than ever before in blogs on the part of law firm management types in the last year or so. In large part, that’s due to the large amount of high quality and timely information and commentary about law firm management topics you find every single day on blogs that cover this topic.
Tom’s list is an excellent place to start, but don’t stop with his list. Be sure to explore on your own and find some more great blogs that will bring you great, practical and timely info on the subjects that matter to you.
Hmm, I notice that I keep mentioning timely information. As a writer, one of the greatest things about blogging is instant publication and getting your written immediately in front of your audience. I currently have several articles (and very good article, if I say so myself) written from more than a month to several months ago that are still waiting to come out in print. Since I usually don’t write on the same topics until an article I’ve written appears it print, it bothers me not to have that article and other thoughts on the same topic out. I’ll also be very happy when the book is out – I’ve never ever had so much material written for so long that hasn’t appeared in print or on the Internet. That will change soon, though, with the book release in a couple of weeks.
If you haven’t seen Tom’s post on recommended blogs for law firm management, then what are you waiting for? Head on over and check it out.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming Soon: The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.
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By Request: What’s Your Best Advice for a Lawyer Wanting to Start a Solo Practice?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

With the economy looking a little shaky (or more than a little shaky) and some rumblings already about law firms considering laying off lawyers, the solo option will become a consideration for many lawyers in 2008.
The short answer to your question is to find a great mentor. However, that’s really the answer to any question about the practice of law and it’s easier said than done.
In my own case, the advice I got that really stuck with me was to be sure to be able to identify exactly where your first client from a client would come from. That simple exercise helps you move from fantasy to reality.
In my recent Blawggie awards, I singled out the solo practice blogs as being a great resource for solos and aspiring solos. You’ll want to do some reading there.
This question also gives me the chance to single out and praise Carolyn Elefant’s new book, Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be. I had the privilege of reading a pre-publication version of the book and wrote the following short blurb about it:

Carolyn Elefant’s new book continues the tradition of her MyShingle.com website, which I once called “the perfect example of a great web resource.” It’s chock-full of exactly the practical advice I was looking for when I left a big firm to go solo. Highly recommended.

It’s the most current of the books about solo practice. It’s also worth tracking down a copy of the latest edition of Flying Solo (you’ll find a few chapters in there that I wrote) and, of course, Jay Foonberg’s classic, How to Start and Build a Law Firm.
However, after having left a large firm to go out on my own almost five years ago and spent a good deal of time thinking about the solo practice and how best to prepare for it and improve how you do it, I’ve recently found a resource that I plan to recommend so much that people will get tired of hearing it from me.
The best advice I can give right now is to watch regularly and study BBC’s Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

My cable company shows it on Thursday nights on BBC America, but you can also buy a DVD. I’ve recently started watching it and it’s a revelation to me. There’s so much that I can see in the show that I wish I would have known earlier.
In the show, restaurateur, chef and absolute master of dropping the F-bomb, Gordon Ramsay, visits and tries to turn around a struggling restaurant and its struggling chef and owner. What is key for a solo practice is how he helps you walk the line between business and profession, accounting and art.
If I were thinking of starting a solo practice now, I’d watch episode after episode of this until I started to see the repeating patterns, the common issues and the common solutions. It really does start to become clear what will work and what won’t (at least in concept – implementation and execution are vital factors as well). It strikes me that in the successful situations there is a fascinating balance between being ruthless objective about what you are doing and, at the same time, being very passionate about the service and product that you provide. In addition to some valuable business lessons that you’ll see play out in a number of settings, you will also get a feel for whether the life of running a business is something that you want to have. I can’t recommend immersing yourself in this show enough, and you will also get the side benefit of learning a whole lot about good food and fantastic new ways to use swear words.
That’s my best advice these days. That, and to be willing to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about whether or not the solo life really fits you. You do not want to become a effing solo practice nightmare.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
If you enjoy this blog, remember it has its own Amazon Wishlist and appreciates your generosity. ;-)
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Cole Silver’s Expert Audio Series

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Lawyer and career and marketing consultant Cole Silver has put together an amazing collection of audio interviews with a who’s who of experts in all phases of law practice management as part of his Expert Audio Series.
It’s a collection of top experts interviewed about their best topics, with coverage of key aspects of business development and marketing, career planning and development, and organizational development and management. I’ve contributed an interview on “Technology that Drives Operational Efficiency.”
What is great about Cole’s collection is that I’ve heard many people (including me) with the idea (and best intentions) of putting together a collection of interviews like this, but Cole has actually done it. And done it extremely well. Even a cursory glance at what is already part of this collection will show you the potential value of this material to your practice. It’s a great example of what the audio/podcasting world is bringing and how an iPod (or other mp3 player) might be the best business and educational tech investment you can make these days.
Check out Cole’s Expert Audio Series.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming in March from ABA Publishing – The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together
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FastCase and Free Legal Research for Missouri Lawyers

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

One of my side projects for the last year or so was being part of a Missouri Bar task force charged with bringing a legal research alternative as a member benefit to members of the Missouri Bar.
It was a productive and fun experience, and I’m proud to say that it resulted in both a great new member benefit and a President’s Award for the task force from the Missouri Bar.
We recommended FastCase as the service provider and the service launched last summer. More details here.
We had a follow-up conference call yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of usage the service is already getting, and the positive response it seems to be getting to this point.
It also reminded me to recommend that Missouri Bar members who read this blog and haven’t tried the FastCase service yet should definitely get out there and give it a try. You can’t beat the price.
It will be interesting to see the long-term impact of this program and others like it being adopted by other state bars on traditional legal research tools. Considered this recent development.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Get your legal technology information by audio. Check out The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast.
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Recruiting, Paying and Retaining Lawyers: Quite a Discussion Going

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Wow! There’s been a lot of conversation over the last few days on lawyer salaries, the legal job market, recruiting and retention issues. As much as I’d like to believe that my post “The Brand is the Talent” last week set off this discussion, in fact it was Amir Efrati’s The Dark Side of the Legal Job Market in the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog that kicked off the lively conversation. Bill Gratsch does a nice job of summarizing and linking to the some of the posts on this topic.
I also liked Rob Millard’s America’s Two Legal Professions, Gerry Riskin’s Sharp Pin Approaching Associate Starting Salary Balloon, and Michelle Golden’s Law Students Building a Better Profession (a great example from the LSBABP blog Michelle discusses is called High Billables & Attrition Take Their Toll on Summer Recruiting). It’s worth tracking down and reading the posts on this topic.
The posts also brought me back to Ron Baker’s Two Cheers for Gary Boomer post last weekend, which really got me thinking, in part because Ron touched on the role that technology and hourly billing play in professional services recruiting and retention.
My own view? I have a number of thoughts percolating and some of them will definitely appear in the quickly approaching webinar that I’m doing about the role technology can play in law firm recruiting and lawyer retention on Thursday, September 27.
As I’ve said, the role that the use of technology can play in recruiting seems to get all the attention, but the role technology can play in retention is the more important piece of the puzzle, not just starting salaries. There’s still time to register and some spots available for the webinar. If you are interested in these topics, I hope you’ll attend the webinar, but I also hope that you’ll read the posts I’ve mentioned and think about their implications.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Upcoming webinar: On September 27 at 12:00 Central, Aspen Knowledge will present Frank Gillman and Dennis Kennedy on “Winning the Battle for Legal Talent with Technology.” Information and registration information here. Please mention that you heard about the webinar on DennisKennedy.Blog.
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