Different Strokes for Different Folks

Posted on April 7, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , |


This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Different Strokes for Different Folks”

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


Different Strokes for Different Folks

During the last week of March, I was privileged to speak at one of my favorite legal conferences, ABA TechShow.

My two presentations focused on educating lawyers about how to create an effective online presence: “Creating Your Online Presence” and “Managing Your Online Presence: The Care and Feeding of the Online You.”

While at TechShow, my new book, “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier” debuted and my co- author, Carolyn Elefant, and I participated in a “meet the authors” session and hosted two “Taste of TechShow” dinners with conference attendees.

An interesting theme became apparent throughout all of the events, both in the form of the audiences’ comments and questions during my presentations, and during conversations over dinner or with attendees who stopped me in the hall to discuss social media. The overarching theme — one that didn’t surprise me — was that different social media plat- forms have had varying levels of effectiveness for different lawyers.

Some find Facebook pages to be extremely effective, while others found them useless. Some claim to have obtained nearly all of their clients via their blogs, while others stopped blogging because they deemed the task a waste of time.
Some say Twitter is a very useful platform, while others long ago abandoned it as a pointless time-suck.

During each of my interactions, I attempted to flesh out the reasons for the varying levels of success with the different forms of social media. It became obvious that success in using social media depends on any number of factors, including the lawyers’ goals, areas of practice and locations.

As I mentioned, the “theme” didn’t surprise me. In fact, it is one of the central premises of our book. As we explain in the introduction: “[L]awyers should use a practical, goal-cen- tric approach to social media, which … enable[s] lawyers to (1) identify social media platforms and tools that fit their practices and (2) implement them easily, efficiently, and ethically.”

In other words, before diving into social media, lawyers first should determine their goals, then make intelligent, informed choices regarding the online platforms that will help them to achieve those goals.

Many goals can be achieved through the use of social media and we devote a chapter to each goal in our book — networking and building relationships; locating information to support areas of practice; gain competitive intelligence and customer feedback; showcase your expertise; brand yourself and your law practice and increase search engine optimization and improve quality of leads.

Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to determine what social media platforms are the best fit for your goals, practice areas, location and, most importantly, your personality and comfort level with the platform. If you are uncomfortable with a platform, then your social media efforts likely are doomed to fail from the very start.

Those who find writing a chore most likely will find that blogging is not for them. A video blog, podcast or a completely different type of social media plat- form might be a better choice.

If the informality of Twitter puts you off, then perhaps writing a blog or participating in LinkedIn groups might be a better fit. In some cases, a very basic online presence, including a Web site and online attorney directories, may be the only online platforms you wish to use. There’s nothing wrong with that approach. The bottom line is that there is no right way for a lawyer or law firm to use social media effectively. It’s not a “one size fits all” approach, nor is it possible to throw together quickly a compelling social media presence.

Instead, creating and maintaining an effective online presence is a matter of learning about the platforms available and implementing a tailored, well-thought out social media plan.

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“Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” Preview Launch at ABA TechShow

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Misc. | Tags: , , , |

Book coverMy new book, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, will be published in just a few weeks. My co-author, Carolyn Elefant and I are extremely excited about it and will be launching a preview of the book at the upcoming ABA TechShow in Chicago.

Hopefully, we’ll have the chance to see many of you at TechShow and discuss our book and social media issues in general!

You can catch up with us at any of the following events:

You can view an excerpt of the book here and soon you will be able to pre-order the book here–just enter product code 5110710.

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How the iPad will change the world

Posted on March 16, 2010. Filed under: The times they are a'changin' | Tags: , , , , , |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “How the iPad will change the world.”

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


How the iPad will change the world.

OK, perhaps I exaggerated just a bit in today’s headline. The iPad won’t change life as we know it, but it will revolutionize the way that we interact with various news and social media. Undoubtedly, we will look back on 2010 as the year the iPad changed the way we obtain and consume information.

How will the iPad affect our day-to-day lives? It’s difficult to say, but I’m certain that it will.
As book, magazine and newspaper publishers and third-party developers get their hands on it — and begin releasing applications made specifically for it — the tide will begin to turn. It will become clear that the iPad, and other touch screen tablets released in its wake, will become the center of our households.

The iPad will be the heart of every home — the digital media consumption hub that connects us to the information highway. The iPad will be the interface of choice for Web browsing and media consumption. Soon, it will be quite common to read books, magazines and newspapers via the iPad interface.

The iPad will be the device users turn to for Web browsing and music and video streaming. In the very near future, recorded television shows and movies will be viewed regularly via live streaming from the Internet, either on the iPad screen itself or by using the iPad as the conduit, with the images appearing on a larger television screen. Although it already is possible to stream content via a computer to a television, it isn’t commonplace. The iPad will be the device that makes it so.
My assertion that the device will usher in a new age of online content consumption is not unique. Many others are suggested it as well: Luke Hayman, for one, at http://www.Pentagram.com predicts the iPad will change the direction of journalism.

What will they be willing to read on their iPad? I predict the return of long-form journalism. At the same time, visual storytelling will take deeper, richer forms. Information design will be more important than ever. Something like New York’s Approval Matrix that we designed back in 2005 with Adam Moss is popular in print but will really come to life in this format. Some people might subscribe to it all by itself.

In short, the iPad is the next stage of online content consumption.

That being said, there are a lot of things the iPad won’t do.

It won’t be a portable work station. Laptops will continue to serve that function far better than the iPad. The iPad will suffice for composing e-mails and short documents but, for most businesses, laptops and desktop computers will remain the interface of choice.
Likewise, the iPad will not replace the iPhone. Smart phones will continue to function as miniature connectors to the information super highway. Their smaller size and GPS functionality make smart phones ideal for certain tasks that the larger, less portable iPad will not be able to duplicate. Applications that rely on geo-location for their functionality — such as the Zillow real estate app or the restaurant location and ratings app Yelp — still will be ideal for use on phones for people on the move. Smart phones will not be supplanted by the iPad, but instead supplemented by it.

The iPad will not fill an already existing niche — it will create a new one. It will be ever-present in our homes, during daily commutes and on airplanes. The iPad will be prevalent where people tend to read books or magazines, but will be far less visible at locations where people mostly work or socialize. It will be our conduit for media consumption and our interface of choice.
The iPad is a game changer of epic proportions — of that I am sure. One year from now, we’ll look back on its release and wonder how we functioned without it.

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Legal research: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Posted on March 3, 2010. Filed under: Practice Management, Productivity, Research, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Legal research: the good the bad and the ugly.”

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


Legal research: the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is a grand scale transformation of legal research plat- forms occurring right now, which is a good thing for the legal profession as a whole.

While none of the existing services are necessarily ugly or bad, some of the most prominent platforms — ones with which we lawyers have always had a love/hate relationship — are antiquated and have been in desperate need of a re-haul for years now.
New entrants into the legal research space have caused fierce competition for customers. The increased competition has resulted in a rich variety of legal research options for lawyers. Some services provide more in-depth results than others, some have very user- friendly interfaces and some are inexpensive, or even free.

At LegalTech New York in February, the two largest, most familiar and most costly legal research platforms in the industry rolled out new products as part of an attempt to keep their offerings fresh and current.

Westlaw introduced WestlawNext, the next generation of Westlaw, a platform that had not changed substantially since its last revamp in 1998. An online brochure describes the platform: “Legal research that’s more human gives you an easier way to search, yet delivers all of what you’re looking for. … [Y]ou can apply intelligent tools to help you work smarter and faster with total confidence you have the information you need. All of which makes life easier.”
There has been some criticism expressed in the legal blogos- phere regarding the added “premium” users must pay in order to access the new platform, and some have decried West’s apparent lack of transparency in that regard.

LexisNexis also announced plans to roll out a new version of its platform, tentatively called “Lexis New,” later this year. In the meantime, Lexis introduced Lexis/Microsoft Office inte- gration, also during LegalTech. The company’s Web site states the new product allows lawyers “reviewing a Word document or an Outlook e-mail message … [to] seamlessly access content and resources from LexisNexis, the open Web, or their law firm or corporate files.”
LexisNexis also offers an iPhone app that allows subscribers to check case citations on the fly.

Two cheaper platforms have been around for at least a decade,Fastcase (www.fastcase.com) and LoisLaw (www.loislaw.com). Both offer subscribers the ability to access case law and statutes via user-friendly Web interfaces.
Fastcase, a 10-year-old legal research company, already serves more than 380,000 lawyers nationwide and has 17 state and local bar associations as its clients. One new notable feature from Fastcase is a free iPhone app. I downloaded the app when it was first released and, in my opinion, it’s a must-have for any lawyer who owns an iPhone. It allows users to quickly and easily search Fastcase’s entire case law database using the intuitive iPhone interface. And, you certainly can’t beat the price.
Another free legal research alternative is Google Legal Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/), which debuted at the end of 2009 and offers a free searchable database of U.S. case law from federal and state courts dating back 80 years, as well as U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1791 and law review articles. Google Legal Scholar is a great resource and, for some lawyers, may offer a good alternative to the traditional legal research platforms.

Finally, a new contender is Bloomberg Law, which will be released later this year The product has been in beta testing for the last year and is offered by the well-established and well known financial news and information services media company, Bloomberg LLC. As described at its Web site, Bloomberg Law will provide an “the all-in-one legal research platform that integrates legal content with proprietary news and business intelligence.”
Many predict that the platform will appeal mostly to larger law firms as a feasible alternative to LexisNexis and Westlaw.

There is no doubt 2010 will be an interesting, and tumultuous, year for legal research providers and the lawyers who use their services. Only time will tell which platforms will win the battle for user loyalty. In the meantime, at least lawyers have far more choices than ever before.

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Cloud computing for lawyers, innovation and more

Posted on February 16, 2010. Filed under: Cloud computing | Tags: , , |

Outline of a cloud containing text 'The Cloud'
Image via Wikipedia

I recently began guest blogging at the Firmex Online Document and Collaboration blog. My posts appear every Tuesday.  If you’re interested in cloud computing and other technology issues for lawyers you may enjoy these posts.

Here are some of my most recent posts:

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More new iPhone apps for lawyers

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: iPhone, Portability, Productivity | Tags: , , |


This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “More new iPhone apps for lawyers.”

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


More new iPhone apps for lawyers

In July 2009 I wrote a column about iPhone apps for lawyers.

A number of interesting, new apps have been released since then, so I figured it is time for an update.

My previous column — published in the July 13, 2009 edition of The Daily Record — included information on the vast assortment of apps for databases of federal and state laws, thus allowing lawyers to carry relevant laws and rules in their pockets in an easily accessible format. Today there is a huge assortment of apps of that nature, since many different versions of those types of apps have been released in the interim. I’ll leave it up to you to peruse the app store for the laws specific to your jurisdiction and areas of practice.

One free app of this type to consider, however, is “Law Stack,” which includes full text versions of the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 5) the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

If you are a LexisNexis subscriber, you definitely should download their new, free app, which allows you to quickly obtain and Shepardize cases, anywhere, anytime.

Dragon Dictation is another free app that is cutting edge and a huge money saver over the traditional software program with which you already may be familiar. The app allows users to dictate a message, which it then transcribes instantly. Users then have the option to edit it and send it via e-mail or text. The message also can be copied to a clipboard and pasted wherever you’d like using the iPhone interface. The transcription is amazingly accurate, making the app a must-have for busy lawyers on the go.

To stay on top of the latest legal news, you can download the ABA Journal’s free legal news app. JD Supra’s Legal Edge app, also free, is another great option for staying on top of the latest news and legal filings in your areas of practice.

One of my favorite apps that I use constantly is Zosh, a true bargain at $2.99. Zosh allows users to upload forms — PDF, Word, Excel, PPT, jpg and many other formats — that have been e-mailed, fill them in, sign them and send them right from your iPhone. There’s no need to print the forms, scan them, fax them or mail them. The app is a tremendous time saver and removes the hassle from that entire process. It’s a life saver and I absolutely love it!

Finally, for lawyers who travel frequently, TripIt is a really useful iPhone app that coordinates with TripIt’s corresponding Web site. After setting up an account,
simply forward itinerary confirmation e-mails from airlines or travel sites to your TripIt account, which allows users to have all travel plans in one place, easily accessible via an iPhone. A social networking aspect to the service also is available, allowing users to share their travel plans with family and friends in his or TripIt network.

There are plenty of other great apps for lawyers as well, and more are being released each day. Explore new apps as they’re released and give them a test drive. It’s worth the time and effort, it’s fun and it saves time and money in the long run.

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When private concern becomes public domain

Posted on July 15, 2008. Filed under: Privacy Rights | Tags: |

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “When Private Concern Becomes Public Domain.”

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

When private concern becomes public domain

Federal judge Louis L. Stanton caused an uproar among privacy advocates last week when he issued an order in Viacom v. YouTube Inc., 07 Civ. 2103, a closely watched case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit, in which Viacom is seeking $1 billion from YouTube and Google for copyright infringement, is
now in the discovery phase. The order related to Viacom’s demand for, among other things, YouTube’s source code and user records.

Using the data demanded, Viacom seeks to establish that YouTube unlawfully profited from the unauthorized viewing of Viacom’s copyrighted works by reviewing the frequency with which its copyrighted videos were viewed compared to other video content on YouTube.

Judge Stanton denied the request for YouTube’s proprietary source code, but ordered the production of “all data from the logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube Web site or through embedding on a third-party Web site,” despite the fact Viacom
could just as easily make its case in the absence of specific user data.

In other words, the court required the production of 12 terabytes of data containing, for every video ever watched on YouTube, the unique login ID of the YouTube user, the time the individual began to watch a video, the IP address of the person’s computer and identification of the particular video being viewed.

Judge Stanton rejected YouTube’s privacy concerns, grounded in the protections set forth in the Video Protection Privacy Act (VPPA), stating that “their privacy concerns are speculative.”

The “[d]efendants do not refute that the ‘login ID is an anonymous pseudonym that users create for themselves when they sign up with YouTube’ which without more ‘cannot identify specific individuals’ (Pls.’ Reply 44), and Google has elsewhere stated: ‘We… are strong supporters of the idea that data protection laws should apply to any data that could identify you. The reality is though that in most cases, an IP address without additional information cannot,’” the judge wrote.

In doing so, the court arguably ignored the protections provided by the VPPA, concluding it was inapplicable despite the fact that the Act specifically prevents the production of “personally identifiable information” by providers of “prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials.”

Pursuant to the VPPA, “personally identifiable information” includes “information indentif[ying] a person as having requested or obtained specific video material or services.”

The VPPA prevents the disclosure of such information: “[I]n a civil proceeding [except] upon a showing of compelling need for the information that cannot be accommodated by any other means, if —(i) the consumer is given reasonable notice, by the person seeking the disclosure, of the court proceeding relevant to the issuance of the court order; and (ii) the consumer is afforded the opportunity to
appear and contest the claim of the person seeking the disclosure.”

Many legal experts have speculated that by ignoring privacy concerns and the arguably applicable protections of the VPPA and ordering the disclosure of the viewing records of more than 4.1 billion videos, the court effectively set legal precedent allowing access to the vast amounts of data on
user activity contained within the servers of Internet giants such as Google.

This is particularly alarming in light of the extremely personal and private nature of the information people seek online, much of which has little to do with prurient interests and includes issues related to mental health, physical health and substance abuse.

Other revealing information obtained online includes people’s use of online dating, job search or debt relief services. People purchase potentially embarrassing products online, including prescription
medications, personal care items and contraceptives.

Judge Stanton’s order is unnecessarily broad, ignores existing laws enacted with privacy concerns in mind and opens the door to more expansive and invasive discovery requests in future lawsuits.

Internet use continues to increase exponentially and is drastically changing the ways in which the world operates. In light of rapid technological advancements, judges must appreciate the potentially broad effects of their rulings in a single case; their failure to do so will be to the detriment of the millions upon millions of Internet users throughout this nation.

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