Technology-Lawyer

Dennis Kennedy

Technology Law and Legal Technology. Dennis Kennedy is one of the few technology lawyers who is also an expert on the underlying technologies. Dennis an award-winning leader in the application of technology and the Internet to the practice of law. DennisKennedy.com gives you access to a wide variety of Dennis Kennedy's resources on legal technology, his writings, his well-known blog, DennisKennedy.Blog, and information about how you can have Dennis speak to your organization or group.

Dennis Kennedy is one of the most knowledgeable legal technologists you will find. - Michael Arkfeld.

Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology expert in St. Louis, Mo., has been a significant influence in the ever-evolving relationship between lawyers and the Web. - Robert Ambrogi

Posts Tagged ‘column’

My Infatuation with Solid State Drives

Monday, December 19th, 2011

My latest tech column for the ABA Journal is called “Solid State Drives Can Bring Magic to Your Computer.”

This column grew out of two things: how much I love the solid state drive in my MacBook Air (as you’ll be able to sense from the article) and a fascinating podcast with Scott Moulton on Solid State Drive Forensics. Solid state drives (SSDs) bring great benefits, but they are also at the frontier of computer forensics.

The article is meant to give an introductions and overview of SSDs and get people thinking about the role SSDs will be playing in our computing experience.

There’s some good discussion in the comments about a number of the issues SSDs raise, even though the remarkably crabby “Jojo the Magic Monkey” seems to think the article is “garbage.” That’s disappointing, of course, because I’m generally more successful with the magic monkey audience.

You’ll also see in the comments and if you do some price checking, that the article was written before flooding in Malaysia helped push the prices significantly higher than at the time I wrote the article. That’s a danger of writing on print publication schedules.

That said, I don’t think I’d buy a computer without an SSD again even at today’s higher costs – it’s made that much of a difference.

Check out the article here.

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

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

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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Tie Down That Public Wifi

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

My latest tech column for the ABA Journal is called “Tie Down That Wi-Fi: Security in Public Requires Vigilance.”

It’s meant to be a simple primer to improve your level of security when using a public wifi hotspot, with the emphasis on free and simple techniques. It’s not so much that people are careless with the use of public wifi, especially on Windows computers, but that they haven’t been taught the basic precautions.

This article focuses on the basic precautions – assess vulnerabilities (tools like Shields Up, apply basic protections (firewalls and malware protection), limit potential for damage (turn off file-sharing), and treat security as an evolving process (practice safety, monitor developments and try to keep improving).

In one sense, like the old “I don’t have to be faster than the bear chasing us, just faster than you” joke, you want to make yourself a less inviting target than the other people using the wifi hotspot.

If no one taught you the basics of wifi security, this article will be a helpful start. It’s probably a good refresher for many of you.

I’ve gotten some good feedback on this article from people who’ve found it helpful.

The money quote:

A few simple steps can help you be safer, but the key is to remember that good security is an ongoing process and commitment.

Check out the article here.

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

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

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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Decluttering Your Hard Drives

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column in its May 2011 issue. The column is titled “Declutter Home Hard Drives and Aid Performance.” The column covers some simple ways you can declutter, clean up and organize your hard drives. I do focus on your home computer(s), but similar principles will apply in the work setting.

Here’s the inspiration behind the column. I got a new personal computer for 2011 (MacBook Air) and needed to load data and files onto the new computer. That process got me thinking about whether there were some good ways to keep drives organized and to get them in good order after, seemingly inevitably, they get cluttered and wildly disorganized.

As I say in the column, “While it’s tempting just to buy a bigger drive or rely on desktop search tools or the enhanced search tools in recent versions of Windows and Mac OS X, these approaches are only short-term fixes.”

Although I couldnít resist the chance to work the buzzphrase “data hygiene” into the column, I decided to focus on a few basic principles and techniques – pruning, decluttering and organizing.

In pruning and decluttering, you look to eliminate duplicated and unneeded files and stop your computer from automatically creating and saving excessive numbers of files to free up space. After pruning and decluttering, you take a closer look at your approach to folders and try to simplify your approach.

Just some nuts-and-bolts concepts, but if you are moving data to a new computer, you’ll appreciate the making some efforts in these directions. Even if you are not moving to a new computer, you’ll appreciate having a cleaner, better-organized file structure.

Check out the article here.

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

Follow my microblog on Twitter ñ @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

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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Starting a Conversation about Open Source in Law Practice

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

At ABA TECHSHOW 2011, I got the opportunity to speak with Rodney Dowell on the topic of the “Open Source Powered Law Firm.” Rodney was great, the audience was engaged, and I really enjoyed the experience. Gwynne Monahan does a nice job of capturing the session in her post, “First Mac, then #cloudcomputing so perhaps #opensource #abatechshow.”

As I mentioned in the session, former Red Hat CEO Bob Young was a keynote speaker at ABA TECHSHOW 2000 and, I believe, this was the first TECHSHOW session since then to focus on Open Source software. Young’s talk inspired me to write a law review article on the Open Source licenses in 2001 (“A Primer on Open Source Licensing Legal Issues: Copyright, Copyleft and the Future,” 20 St. Louis Univ. Pub. L. Rev. 345 (2001)) and put together a list of web sources on Open Source legal issues. I’ve been interested in Free and Open Source software and the philosophy behind it ever since. If you Google my name and “Open Source” you’ll find some of my writings and a couple of podcasts (e.g., this podcast).

I’ve had the chance in 2011 to write one article and co-author with Gwynne Monahan another on the use of Open Source software in the practice of law.

The major article is the one with Gwynne that was recently published in the March/April 2011 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine. It’s called “10 Tips for Getting Started with Open Source Software” and it’s meant to be a easy and practical introduction to Open Source Software and the role it might play in law practice. As you might guess from the title, it feature ten important practical tips.

In my monthly technology column for the American Bar Journal in March 2011, I wrote a short and concise introduction to Open Source software in law practice called “Free Can Be Good: Add Open Source to Software Considerations.” In the column, I conclude: “Open Source programs are be coming realistic alternatives for lawyers, especially for focused tasks. Now is a great time to add a consideration of Open Source software to your technology decision-making process.”

Through the presentation and the articles, I wanted to join with Gwynne and Rodney in raising the profile of Open Source software, highlighting its growing importance and introducing the philosophy and reality of Open Source software.

Open Source is about community. The articles and presentation are meant to start the conversation, but we also wanted to find ways to continue and extend the conversation about the use of Open Source software in the practice of law. One step in that direction is a new LinkedIn group called Open Source Tools for Law Practice. With luck, it will grow to help people find others interested in Open Source and offer a place for conversations. If you are interested in Open Source, please consider joining the group.

[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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MacGyver Your Software

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column. It’s called “MacGyver Your Software: Necessity Reveals Useful Tools You Never Knew Your Software Had.” It covers some ways you can cleverly make use of the standard programs you have to do some things that you thought only programs you don’t have could do.

As I say in the column,

I have noticed that many lawyers who make innovative use of technology in their practices take advantage of program features not commonly used by others. Often, this results from the lack of budget or permission to install new programs. Necessity becomes the mother of invention.

Those of you famility with TV history (and who isn’t?) will get the reference to MacGyver, who could also make some amazing new use out of seemingly random materials at hand to escape from difficult situations.

Many lawyers with limited technology tools have felt like a MacGyver trying to cobble together software and hardware to accomplish something that technology they didn’t have would easily do.

The premise of this column is to take a look at ways you can use common tools for quite different purposes, not just give you some tips to use existing programs better.

Some examples include using your word processor as a metadata scrubber or blog publishing tool, presentation programs as a graphics editor or audio/video editor and Adobe Acrobe for a wide variety of purposes.

The idea is to get you to think in new ways and not to throw your hands up in despair because your firm won’t let you get tools you need. There are other options.

The money quote from the column:

Now is a great time to explore the unused features in software you already have. If you unleash your inner MacGyver, do some exploring and are willing to be creative, you are likely to find a much bigger and better-stocked toolbox than you ever imagined.

Check out the article here.

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

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

Using PowerPoint as a Tool, Not as a Necessary Evil

Monday, October 4th, 2010

The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column. It’s called “Bite the Bullet Point” and deals with the growing problem of poor use of PowerPoint slides that drains all of the energy out of many presentations I see today, especially those by lawyers.

As I say in the column, “The biggest problem I see is that people have moved the focus from the speech and the speaker to the slides.”

Or, as I also say: “[M]ost complaints about PowerPoint are like blaming modern hammers for poorly built houses. It’s not the tool, but how the user uses the tool.”

Everywhere I turn lately, I see references to “death by PowerPoint” and similar harsh critiques of the use of technology in presentations today. There’s no question that most “standard” presentations these days bury you in bullet points and boredom. Worse yet, after seeing all the slides and hearing the talk, you often don’t know what the main conclusion is, what should matter to you, and, most important, what you should do next.

If you’ve read this blog or my articles, including my ABA Journal column, over the years, you’ll notice that focusing on using technologies as appropriate tools is a recurring theme of mine. As tempting as it might be to want the “new shiny thing,” you’ll want to always keep in mind that technology is a tool and you should always keep in mind the ways a new technology can help you do what you actually want to accomplish.

Think about the oft-cited example that vendors want to sell you a drill, but what you want to buy is the holes you need to get the job accomplished. The drill is just the vehicle that gets you to the holes.

That’s the background for the new column – my concern that the focus for presentations has turned to slides, PowerPoint (or Keynote), video, audio, design and transitions, and away from educating, persuading and inspiring.

However, I’ll stress that I’m not a PowerPoint opponent. When it’s used correctly, it can definitely help you educate, persuade and inspire. If you don’t think that’s the case, you haven’t seen someone use PowerPoint really well in service of their message.

In the new column:

I run through a list of some of the things that bother me about how many people use PowerPoint in presentations these days. I’ll note that it’s a 650-word column, so I couldn’t fit everything in there, but you’ll get the idea.

More important, I give six of my best suggestions to help you break out of today’s PowerPoint and presentation traps:

1. Ask the question: Are slides even needed?

2. Remember that slides must serve the presentation, and not vice versa.

3. Keep the focus on the presenter and presentation, not the slides.

4. Don’t make slides do double duty. A huge problem I often see is using the same slides for the presentation and the handout.

5. Details matter. At a minimum, view your slides on the screen from the back of the room before you speak. I hate it when the speaker knows a slide can’t be read and apologizes out loud for it. Fix it; don’t apologize.

6. Find new role models. I’m a huge fan of Cliff Atkinson and his influential book on presentations called Beyond Bullet Points. His approach to slides is very visual, with minimal text and no bullets. He emphasizes the importance of theme, structure and story. Spend some time watching TED Talks videos and videos of other great presenters.

I’d definitely like to hear your reactions to this article and to the topic. I actually wrote it several months ago and when I re-read it, it really seemed to reflect the theme of practical and effective use of technology to help you with what you do everyday that’s been my goal with the ABA Journal tech column over the years. Let me know if the column works that way for you.

If I would have had a few more words for the column, I might have added a seventh point about hard work and rehearsal (although it’s alluded to in the column). As I mentioned earlier, I’m not anti-PowerPoint. In fact, I’ve always liked it. What I like, though, is the way it makes some aspects of preparing a presentation easier and frees you up to spend more time and effort on your message, your delivery and your audience. As they say, you can work smarter, not harder, and focus your effort on what matters most.

Check out the article here.

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

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

Power Panels – Tips for Tech Committees

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column. It’s called “Power Panels” and deals with one of my favorite legal technology topics, law firm technology committees.

I’ve been part of or assisted with a number of law firm technology committees over the years. I’ve also been impressed by how hard lawyers on technology committees work to evaluate options, balance the needs of competing constituencies, and attempt to make good strategic and tactical decisions.

Law firm tech committees do all of this without much in the way of reference materials and support groups. In fact, if you get appointed to your firm’s tech committee, you will quickly notice that there is not much guidance out there.

Unfortunately, if you do a Google search on law firm technologies committees today, you’ll actually find a a very promisely-sounding webinar that I did that is no longer available. I still get the occasional inquiry about that seminar. Maybe I’ll see if I can post the handout or slides for that seminar in a future post.

In the weak moments when I think about writing another book, I think that that book would be a handbook for lawyers on technology committees. Then I come to my senses.

As a technology topic topic, law firm tech committees are a topic of vital importance to, well, members of tech committees, especially the new-appointed. To the rest of lawyers, not so much. I’ve noticed that my recent ABA Journal columns have started to draw a fair number of comments. In the case of this new column on tech committees – none. You are more than welcome to make a comment after you read the article just to make me feel noticed.

To the new column:

The idea here was to put together a basic primer and give a set of my five favorite simple and practical tips for law firm tech committees.

I discuss how every firm large or small actually has a formal or informal “tech committee” that makes decisions. It would be rare that only one person makes key tech decisions in isolation. I also point out the several roles tech committees play.

My five tips:

1. Diversify membership.

2. Enhance IT relationships.

3. Set a simple strategy.

4. Monitor return on investment.

5. Consider outside help.

If you are a lawyer interested in technology, being part of your firm’s tech committee can be rewarding, help the firm and give you a practical outlet for your tech interest. It’s also the best way to have significant input on the technology you will use.

I’d definitely like to hear your reactions to this article and to the topic.

Check out the article here.

If there’s interest, I might dig up some of my writings about tech committees and post them onthis blog or as a PDF.

[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

iPads and Lawyers

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

My most recent technology column for the ABA Journal is called simply “A Legal iPad” and, not surprisingly, talks about the potential usage of the Apple iPad by lawyers.

One of the tricky things about writing a technology column for a print publication is the lead-time necessary for articles. Longtime readers will know that my favorite definition of a blog is “an online newspaper or magazine column without the newspaper or magazine.” With a blog, you write the post, publish it and it’s instantly ready to be read and find its audience.

For my ABA column, there’s generally a two month or so lead-time. So, this column about the iPad was written back in February. As a result, I wrote it before the iPad was released and before I could have had one in my hands. That’s reflected in the article, which is not a review. Of all my columns, it’s the one that I had the most concern about becoming outdated or inaccurate before it actually came out. But, because of the way I wrote the piece, I think it turned out OK in terms of timeliness.

The column generated a lot of comments, showing the interest of lawyers in the topic.

My approach in the column was to look at whether the tablet computer form factor, iPad or otherwise, would ever replace the venerable legal pad for lawyers.

Now, I’m a longtime Tablet fan (see my 2005 article on my Tablet PC epiphanies). In fact, in the column, I refer to myself as “eternal optimist about tablet devices.”

However, I’m definitely a “wait until the second version” Apple hardware person. So, I’m actually planning my iPad purchase for late 2010. I’m definitely following the experiences of my friends and others using iPads in the meantime. As I always say (and I emphasize this point in the latest episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast), you really have to focus on what your own “use case” is when you buy new hardware.

In general, I’m bullish on the iPad and the likely uses lawyers will make of it. Take a look at the article and see how accurate my initial predictions seem to be. My concluding thought: “I don’t think we’ll see the legal pad disappear anytime soon, but it’s about to get its biggest challenge yet.”

The money quote:

Where I expect to see significant early iPad adoption is among solos and small firms (including boutique firms started by refugees from large firms) that are already using the Internet and technology in new ways.

One of my main points in the column was the importance of the iPads as an application platform. It’s the apps that matter.

I point specifically in the column to Dan Bricklin’s Note Taker app (originally for the iPhone and iPod Touch), which allows you to write with your finger on the screen and capture and work with notes. I was intrigued by its potential on the larger form factor of the iPad. Bricklin, who has the development of the original spreadsheet program, VisiCalc, on his resume, has an active web presence, so you can follow his work and thinking as he develops the app for the iPad.

That said, it’s been interesting to see both Jeff “iPhoneJD” Richardson and Josh “Tablet Legal” Barrett write positively about Note Taker recently. Maybe I was on the right track in the column.

I recommend the column to you and also suggest that you take a listen to the podcast Tom Mighell I did on the iPad called “The iPad: Gadget or Game-Changer?

I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences with the iPad.

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

Follow my microblog on Twitter: @dkennedyblog; Follow me: @denniskennedy

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