Archive for June, 2008

Waking the Sleeping Giant–the Legal Profession and Social Media

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: New Media 101, Social Media, Web 2.0 |

The following is my Daily Record column from the past week, entitled “Waking the Sleeping Giant.”

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


Waking the Sleeping Giant

A year ago (a law firm) commissioned a song celebrating (their nomination as one of the best companies to work for)…

The law blog “Above the Law” put the song on youtube.

Merriment ensued.

Then (the firm) found out that people were laughing at them

So, they laughed and said “Yeah, it is a silly song.”

No, of course not.

So they started to act like a bunch lawyers.

They sent youtube a DMCA takedown notice.  Youtube took it down.

That got (the firm) some attention…

Heck, nobody was even sure it was real.  Until they lawyered up.

YouTube video commentary (54,959 views as of 6/5/08 )


            When I first started my New York law blog, Sui Generis, in November of 2006, very few lawyers knew what a “blog” was.  And, quite frankly, not many lawyers actually cared.

             Time has a way of changing things.  The increasing popularity of social media, including the indisputable and viral effect of blogs, has finally caused those at the top of the legal profession to sit up and take notice. 

             The major impetus behind this change has been a number of notable public relations disasters occurring over the last year involving large law firms, that were, at the time, unfamiliar with the social media landscape. 

           The most notable incident, described above, involved a large firm’s rather lawyerly response to the leak of a celebratory song commissioned by the firm.  In another case, a disgruntled associate’s parting email to her former employer, Paul Hastings, was leaked on the internet, causing untold amounts of negative publicity for the firm.

           These and other online public relations gaffes by large law firms over the past year have forced the legal profession to reluctantly acknowledge the existence and importance of blogs and other online social media, as evidenced by a recent New York Lawyer article: Gossip Girls (and Boys): Blogs Bedeviling BigLaw.

            As explained in the article, “The immediacy — and, at times, the brutality — of the media form is presenting a challenge for firms that are wary of their private matters entering the public domain.”

          For that very reason, that article notes that many large law firms, now painfully cognizant of the viral effects of online media, are trying to track blogs and other social media in an attempt to engage in damage control.

          In response to the growing need to monitor social media, software companies have emerged which provide businesses with tools to track and measure what’s being said about their company online in real time, such as Techrigy, a Rochester-based technology start up.

          Techrigy provides SM2, a software solution, which allows businesses to search and analyze what is being said about their company and their competitors on blogs, message boards and forums, social networking sites, and video sharing sites such as YouTube.

          It’s inevitable.  Companies such as Techrigy will be in increasing demand as the importance of monitoring online discourse becomes more apparent to businesses with reputations to maintain.

           Technology is changing rapidly.  Information is being exchanged online in ways not previously encountered or envisioned. 

            The legal profession has always been somewhat slow to embrace change.  But, much like a slumbering giant, once awakened, it can be a force to be reckoned with.  So, let the reckoning begin.

Nicole Black


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How do you find the time? You use the tools . . . like RSS

Posted on June 8, 2008. Filed under: Internet 101 | Tags: , , |

RSS IconLawyers deal in information and the flow of it these days can drive you to much more than distraction. One thing I’ve heard over and over again when people talk about blogs and the new media is “how do you find the time . . . ?” How? I use the tools. I don’t go to each of them separately, such as through a bookmark in my Favorites (actually I use Firefox, so they’re bookmarks).

No, I monitor hundreds of blogs, sites and specialized searches that I’ve created through the “magic” of RSS or Really Simple Syndication feed, which really made much of the Internet’s new media possible. Subscribing to one of these feeds to a feed and read it in a feed reader, sometimes called a feed aggregator, allows you to monitor a myriad of sources for information that is relevant, indeed vital, to his or her practice. Not just blogs, but also newspapers, magazines, searches on Google, and a myriad of other possibilities. Anywhere you see the RSS symbols (one of them is found in this post), a chicklet like you see in the right panel, or a link with an exhortation to “get our feed,” you can make it so new content is delivered directly to your desktop (through the feed) on your browser or in downloadable reader, so you can skim it, look for what interests you, and then only read that. Wheat from chaff, folks.

If you learn one tool as you explore how to integrate online tools into your practice, I suggest that RSS is the one or near the top. Rather than reinvent the wheel here, I’m going to point you to some other sources. First, a quick video from a great outfit called Common Craft called RSS in Plain English:

There are also a couple of posts that I’ve found very useful on two of my favorite bloggers’ blogs, Problogger and Copyblogger. These posts set out RSS in simple terms and outline both how it works and why you’d want to use it.  Finally, Lifehacker posted the 5 most popular feed readers, according to an informal survey conducted from about 400 of the site’s many readers (there is much more detail at the Lifehacker site, so I encourage you to follow the link, plus it’s a pretty cool site in general):

  • Google Reader (my personal favorite)
  • NetVibes
  • FeedDemon
  • NetNewsWire (for you with Macintosh)
  • Sage (an extension for Firefox that turns the browser into a feed reader lite)
  • By the number of commenters to the Lifehacker post taking them to task for not including it, I’ll add Bloglines.
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Web 2.0 Collides with e-Discovery

Posted on June 6, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Web 2.0 |

There’s an interesting article that charts the collision of Web 2.0 with e-discovery.

For starters, this article offers a great, basic introduction to the concept of Web 2.0.  It also highlights the importance of understanding the basics of Web 2.0 as it relates to discovery requests in litigation.  

In short, if you don’t understand the technology, then you can’t properly respond to discovery requests relating to the technology and could very well face sanctions or otherwise negatively impact the pending litigation.

From the article:

You have received a document request from opposing counsel. Among the various items of calendar entries and e-mails requested is a request for “Any and all social networking or business networking information related to the key player(s).”

This raises questions of what is in scope, where is it, how much is enough, and who is responsible for producing it? Welcome to the collision between Web 2.0 and electronic data discovery…

Web 2.0 is defined as a trend in Web technology aimed at facilitating information sharing and collaboration among users by using the Internet as a platform.

In short, Web 2.0 services promote network effects from user contributions creating a far-reaching collective intelligence.

A classic example is the Wikipedia phenomenon where information is constantly created, edited and in some cases deleted by different end users…

Web 2.0 features that enable or increase the frequency of cross-linking or content creation by users may be creating either: (a) content or (b) context that becomes relevant in a given litigation. Contextual information is often referred to as metadata…

(I)f a company employee posts information (large amounts, such as blog posts, or small amounts, such as a link to a business contact) to an Internet site or service, is that information susceptible to discovery? Has Web 2.0 created another container or location of relevant data that counsel must pay attention to in advocating on behalf of their client?

If you find the answer to be yes, then what other aspects of that information become discoverable? Would metadata, other references, prior or reply comments, or even who looked at the information ever be relevant? If so, then you may be knee deep in Web 2.0.

As has always been the case, technology develops and the law catches up. Web 2.0 is now allowing users to not only retrieve and read information, but also leave and/or change information on widely dispersed systems in ways that may have value only because the data is part of a much larger pool of data. To the extent that this new information is relevant to litigation, developing an awareness of Web 2.0 and then navigating this new world will become a new wrinkle in the already intricate world of e-discovery.

Nicole Black

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Free Voice Control for Power Point Presentations

Posted on June 4, 2008. Filed under: New Resources, Uncategorized |

Lifehacker had a really interesting post the other day about using speech recognition to control Power Point presentations–an idea that many a lawyer might find to be intriguing.  And, some lawyers might even consider it to be a form of Nirvana–not that I’m  friends with any of those types.  

First, you download Microsoft’s new freeware tool, Windows Speech Recognition Macros.  Then, you download Rob Chamber’s free Next Slide Macro.

And, voila!  You should be able to control Power Point presentations by saying “next slide” and “previous slide”. 

Nicole Black


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Why in the world should lawyers be concerned with social media?

Posted on June 1, 2008. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, Web 2.0 | Tags: |

Because, it’s the wave of the future, that’s why.  Those who “get it” will have a distinct advantage over those who refuse to acknowledge its existence.  

Of course, my assertion begs the question:  what is social media?  Via LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms and Real Lawyers Have Blogs, I learned of this new video from Common Craft that simplifies social media and describes it in a nutshell:


Social media and Web 2.0 are the future of collaboration and communication in every field, including the legal profession.  The combined creativity and ingenuity of the those with similar interests results in innovative, ground-breaking changes, while a resistant, stubborn mindset leads to nothing but stagnation.

The way that things are getting done is changing, and at a rapid pace.  Keep up with it, and you’ll benefit enormously.  Ignore it and you’ll pay the price.

And, as an aside, an interesting analysis of the future of social media as an revenue-generating platform can be found here at ReadWriteWeb.

Nicole Black

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