Archive for April, 2009

lawtechTalk-The “Consumer Reports” of Legal Technology

Posted on April 30, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Lawtechtalk4I’ve started a new legal technology consulting business called lawtechTalk.

lawtechTalk helps you understand valuable Internet and Web 2.0 technologies and how to incorporate them into your law practice to maximize efficiency and save time and money.

lawtechTalk brings the most up-to-date information directly to you through speaking engagements, webinars and personal consultations.  Nicole Black, a practicing attorney and legal technology enthusiast, will be your guide.

Contact information and additional details about the services offered by lawtechTalk can be found here.

The first episode of lawtechTalk is now available.

This screencast (a recording of computer screen output along with video of me discussing what is seen) will focus on some of the best free or low cost web-based “to-do” list and reminder applications.  We’ll explore the main features of some of the most useful and innovative “to-do” applications to help you figure out which will best meet your needs.

You can find more information about this screencast here.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Posted on April 21, 2009. Filed under: The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Technological change is occurring at an unprecedented rate and is indisputably changing the way that the business world functions.

Nevertheless, well-established, mammoth institutions move forward blindly, attempting to conduct business as usual despite the uncomfortable knowledge that the building blocks upon which their businesses are based are crumbling at their very foundations.

Just last week, two seemingly unrelated and well- established institutions, cable television and the legal profession, reluctantly gave an inch to the winds of change.

Not surprisingly,  however, after acknowledging that some form of adaptation was required, both continued to cling unsuccessfully to the formulas that always worked for them in the past.

First, Time Warner Cable backed off plans to use Rochester as a test market for a consumption-based billing trial for Internet customers. Earlier, it caused an uproar when it announced its intent to implement the plan in September.

As a direct result of the public backlash, on April 16, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt announced that the company would cancel consumption-based billing trial:

It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing. As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.

Time Warner, however, stubbornly resisted the tide of change and refused to rule out a consumption-based plan in the future.

Similarly last week, law firm giant Wombyle Carlyle, when announcing layoffs and salary reductions of associates and staff, issued an internal memorandum with language that could have been copied directly from the book that I discussed last week, Richard Susskind’s “The End of Lawyers?”:

The world of law firms … has changed forever. Clients are increasingly focused on managing the costs of all legal matters. … In many instances, price will control the decision of which of several competing law firms will be hired. Successful firms will be those who continu- ously strive to improve efficiencies and find ways to minimize costs without reducing the overall quality of the services they provide. That of course means that firms will need fewer, but more highly skilled and trained personnel at all levels. Simply stated, like the business world in general, law firms must be able to do more with less.

That language indicates that Wombyle Carlyle perceives the enormous changes occurring in the legal industry and is attempting to adapt its practices accordingly, but the decision to reduce costs by eliminating the very positions that constitute the foundation of the firm belie their commitment to the forward thinking concepts embodied in the memo.

Like Time Warner, Wombyle Carlyle seemingly understands that change is inevitable while refusing to take advantage of the opportunity presented by that very knowledge. Rather than using that knowledge to proceed innovatively, both institutions desperately are seeking ways to maintain the framework in which they
always functioned.

Time Warner must comprehend that, in just a few years, most non-commercial Internet users will be completely mobile rather than home-based, and will want access to the Internet no matter where they are.

Instead of clinging to and preserving a dying industry —cable television —Time Warner would be wise to offer consumers new, more flexible ways to use their services.

Wombyle Carlyle similarly would be wise to revise the firm’s infrastructure from the ground up. Creating a less hierarchical and more collaborative, cooperative environment would strengthen the firm, making it more adaptable.

Lopping off the support positions at the bottom of the hierarchy makes no sense, and leaves equity partners teetering at the top of a rigid and failing system.

Forward-thinking words are a start, but only when such words are followed by forward-thinking actions do they indicate true progress.

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Domino’s has momentum-It’s not all bad.

Posted on April 18, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Just watched Gary Vaynerchuk’s video about the Domino’s fiasco and agree with him 100%. Here’s my 2 cents as to what Domino’s should do next:

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It’s the end of the law as we know it…

Posted on April 8, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Uncategorized, Web 2.0 |

Many lawyers may be unwilling to face the music, but the legal profession is undergoing a dramatic transformation even as we speak.

I’ve believed this for a while and was thrilled to hear Richard Susskin’s brilliant keynote speech at the ABA’s TechShow last week in Chicago.  His speech was the highlight of the event for me.  His main points resonated with me and it was wonderful to hear someone speak (with a British accent, no less!) of many of the very issues I’ve been mulling over this past year.  And, even better–he gets it–he really gets it!

First off, let’s dispel some misunderstandings that have occurred as of late in the legal blogosphere regarding his speech.  My round up of comments at Legal Tweets was not intended to be all inclusive, nor was it intended to mislead.  Rather, it was simply a list of tweets that I found to be most interesting.  The round up certainly did not accurately summarize the main points raised during the keynote speech.

Secondly, let’s acknowledge outright that Susskind specifically noted in both his speech and his book, The End of Lawyers?, that litigation practices would be affected the least by technological changes due to the very nature of the practice.  Litigation matters, including criminal defense, are very fact specific.  Further, litigating attorneys must necessarily appear in court.  This requirement is unlikely to change any time soon, and, I would hazard to guess that most litigation attorneys are quite happy with that fact, thank you very much.

Now, let’s get to the meat of Susskind’s speech-his premise that the legal field is undergoing a fundamental change that will affect the vast majority of legal practice areas. The impetus behind the change is the technological advances occurring at an unprecedented rate.  The world has changed in ways we couldn’t have envisioned just 10 years ago-and the legal field is not immune from these changes, despite its repeated attempts to stick its collective heads deeply into the sands of time.

Lawyers relish the idea of looking backward, not forward.  Lawyers cling to precedent, “the way it’s always been done”, even as the rickety old lifeboat which has always kept them afloat falls apart and is replaced by better, more advanced flotation devices.

The legal field is changing–not will change–is changing.  Technology’s momentum cannot be stopped, nor can the end result of the momentum be accurately predicted.

As one of the smartest guys around, Gary Vaynerchuk, states in the following video, there’s no way to predict exactly where technology will take us, nor is there any reason to do so.  The intelligent among us will make it a point to stay on top of technological advances and will be at the forefront of change, as it occurs.

Those who make the change work for their law practices will profit and survive.  Those who ignore it, quite simply, will not and will fade away just as the dinosaurs did when they were unable to adapt to rapid change.

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