The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!
Red Sox' Faustian 2004 Nightmare: Al Podboy forwarded an absolutely hysterical parody of the MasterCard commercial where Red Sox fans pledged first born children (and more) if their team won the world series -- and guess what! It's PAYBACK TIME!
Hands down, one of the most fascinating stories we have ever covered in Law Technology News was our June 2011 cover story, "Catch Me If You Can," about how lawyers and their organizations responded to the astounding insider trading prosecution against Matthew Kluger. (LexisNexis subscribers can access it here.)
In the article, Tam Harbert detailed how Kluger, who worked at four of the world's most prestigious law firms, managed to acquire approximately $37 million (with two accomplices) by simply reading file labels to figure out information about pending mergers and acquisitions.
This week, Kluger pleaded guilty Wednesday to all four counts against him. Check out the report by Tom Huddleston Jr. in The Am Law Daily.
Our package looked at the lessons learned by law firms, and how they are balancing the difficult tightrope between protecting confidential data while still providing as open an environment as possible internally to faciliate collaboration and innovation. In addition to ramping up ethics training and security, one of the interesting themes that emerged was whether law firms may need to rethink the traditional "MYOB" (mind your own business) hands-off posture of dealing with employees, and become more proactive about offering support services (overt or subtle).
While no firm will be able to completely outwit brilliant sociopaths, organizations should watch for red flags that might signal potential employee meltdowns big or small. Especially in the aftermath of the economic earthquakes. A recent PriceWaterhouse Coopers poll of 1,600 adults who make $30,000+/year found that 61% of respondents are stressed about finances, and 49% have a hard time paying monthly bills --- even 36% of high earners ($100K+). As I wrote in my editor's note in June, "No doubt, there is a huge difference between thefts fueled by arrogance and those fed by desperation, but both can lead to tragedy. Perhaps it's time ... to reach out."
The merger has been in the works since TR acquired
BRCo in 2007, Bradford Hildebrandt said.
"He will continue to play a prominent role at the combined company
while yielding day-to-day supervision to Baker CEO Brad Robbins and
Hildebrandt managing director Jim Jones."
" 'It just makes
enormous sense," Hildebrandt says. The two companies have been working
together anyway, since a big part of helping firms become more
efficient involves streamlining their tech systems,' he adds."
firms are just not equipped with the technology to deal with changing
business models the way they are going to be forced to,' Jones says. 'When you are billing all of your time on an hourly basis, the
accounting system is pretty simple. But if a significant portion of
your business--not a majority, but a significant portion — is based on
flat fees and other alternative arrangements, the technology gets much
more complicated,' " Lowe writes.
The American Lawyer has been tracking the earthquakes that have been reconstructing large firms for about a year now. Editor Aric Press, in a recent update on the Am Law Daily, notes that not all expectations have materialized: outside investors aren't quite breaking down law firm doors, and "the transformational technology remains a slow-gestating messiah"; but "there are plenty of disparate events that support the observation that this business change is more than just a sideshow."
Among the signs: Half of the TAL's "A-List" firms have started alternative fee arrangements with important clients (e.g., Pfizer, Citibank). "If Microsoft could chop K&L Gates and Sullivan & Cromwell from its preferred provider list, what client-firm relationship is inviolate?" Press asks.
And more firms are exploring legal process outsourcing, be it to Bangalore or Bangor. Firms may want to heed the advice of Microsoft GC Brad Smith: "Work on process improvement. That's the holy grail for us."
As Press observes: "Think of it this way: Why is it that law firms are the only businesses in which increasing productivity is a measure of how many more hours a lawyer bills rather than how more efficient she has become?"
Read more on the Am Law Daily here. And check out TAL's 2009 Law Firm Leaders Survey here.
My aforementioned boss, Aric Press, editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer, wrote a lights-out great editorial in the November issue , challenging law firms to accelerate into the curves and make seven key decisions about how to run their law practices.
They are all spot-on, but I particularly liked two. Predictably, "Mine Your Technology," but even more, "Embrace the Suck."
Says Press: "That's military jargon for being caught in a difficult situation and
having to deal with it. Law firms and their lawyers are in the throes
of choosing whether to adjust to, resist, or embrace the fallout from
the economic calamities. Virtually every major firm has altered its
billing practices, at least on the margins, in order to accommodate
client demands for fixed, alternative, or hybrid fees. What's unclear
is whether firms are, well, embracing the suck: Are they using this
period to analyze their work flow and staffing, and then seek ways to
do their work differently, more efficiently, and just as profitably?
Or, are they begrudging, and counting the months until a robust sellers
market returns? That's a process question -- which lawyers are good at -- and a taste for risk question -- which lawyers are poor at. G.I.s
have a term for the consequences of making the wrong choice: FUBAR."
Monty Lunn has answered the siren call of New Orleans, and moved back. He most recently was a director at Huron Consulting Group. We'll letcha know when he gets settled in with new contact info.
* Connie Moser, formerly of Elite, has joined another Elite-ite, Mark Goldin at American LegalNet. Goldin's the new CTO, Moser's the new marketing director She'll be at ILTA so you can reconnect with her there, or reach her here.
*Angelique Schaffer checks in from Thomson Reuters to advise us that Legal Current has replaced Westblog. Check it out!
* Herbert Roitblat of Oratec forwards this encouraging article chastizing local governments for their version of "solution-speak." Note the list of 200 no-no words, including "beaconicity," "holistic governance," and "incentivising."
* Better late than never: This slipped thru my inbox cracks, so it's a bit old now, but still interesting: Katherine Petusek, of the National Association of Women Lawyers and its foundation, are conducting a fourth annual survey on retention and promotion of women in the largest 200 U.S. firms. Contact Cheryl Oblander here for an update. Copies of past surveys can be viewed here.
*Finally, a treat courtesy of SheFanJane (Jane Heller). A fun YouTube that you can embedding where appropriate. (BTW, she just featured an excerpt of my book review of her terrific new book, Confessions of a She-Fan) on her book's website (scroll down below "advanced praise.") Full review here. And I've also started posting my book reviews on Amazon (username Monica Bay. We'll use it to close out this edition of TCS:
My alum, the University of San Francisco School of Law, is offering a symposium on 9/17 to help law students and lawyers negotiate the changing legal landscape. It will include four panel discussions, featuring legal commentators, practitioners, and folks (like me) who have pursued non-traditional legal careers.
The program will focus on:
* The business of running a successful law practice.
* Nuts and bolts of going solo/small firm.
* Alternative careers for lawyers who don't practice law.
Bye Bye Dome.... The 7th annual Twins/Yanks fest was, as always, Big Fun -- a chance to connect with the terrific Twins Cities tech community and say goodbye to the Metrodome... (well, unless we meet again in October!)
As always, it was a jam-packed three days of vendor meetings and beisbol! We started off the trip with our annual visit to Thomson Reuters, with huge thanks to John Shaughnessy (far left), Gretchen DeSutter (below) and Scott Augustin (left) for setting up a day of helpful briefings. We had a chance to say a quick hello to Allison Guidette, who has returned to Eagan as vp of litigation (she was headed to the airport for a trip west); then visited with Preston McKenzie, vp of Hubbard One (which includes ContactNet, Hubbard One and Monitor Suite). Then we got a fascinating update from Rob Sargeson, senior vp & CIO, about the company's expansion plans for its massive data centers.
Over a yummy evil midwest lunch, (TR's commissary is just too tempting!) Mike Abbott and Stephanie Krause updated us on pro bono projects designed to help displaced legal professionals. It's always great to see vp Laurie Zenner and the corporate communications team, which also includes Kevin Hunt and Michele Endgahl in addition to the aforementioned folks.
Then Denis Hauptly (vp strategic development), who has just returned from a long stint in Switzerland, offered his mighty wisdom about uber search and other trends on the horizon. Here's a link to his new book, Something Really New, which I will be reading shortly!
Next on the agenda was a briefing on the Westlaw Business' global outreach, with marketing vp Gus Thompson) and sr. director Rob Kirchstein (with Gretchen, above). The day wrapped up with sr. director Brian Knudsen mktg mgr John Vonhor offering me a tour of the company's PeopleMap public information software that helps everybody from litigators to skip tracers track down 411 on folks.
Before I headed to the Dome with Teri "Jersey Girl" McCarron and Teddy Lindgren for game 1 of the Twins/Yanks series, Incisive's Michael Medwig and Marnie Maroney (below left in white shirt, with Paul Godlewski from Thomson Reuters) and I visited 3M -- with mktg communications mgr Joan Olseen and Erik Johnson for an update on the company's popular RFID system that helps law firms and companies track their paper files.(BTW, apparently Teri is not the only "JG" in Mpls -- check out the license plate I saw at Thomson Reuter parking lot!)
Day 2 began with an update from NightOwl, which offers document management services. Scott Sterkel, director of sales and mktg, told us how the company is growing with its e-discovery offerings.
Then it was off to Eden Praire to meet up with the Kroll Ontrack gang, including Christian Betancourt and Megan Kubacki, (left). Kaitlin Shinkle regaled us with reports on her June wedding at the St. Paul hotel (Congrats! plus a shout out to Michelle Lange, who is on maternity leave!)
Finally, we had a very interesting meeting with Avantstar's Matt Knudson about the company's content management system, and how they are getting increasing traction within the e-discovery community.
Then it was to the Dome for the Twins/Yanks fest. Thanks to everybody who joined us, including LTN edit board members George Socha and Tom Gelbmann (right); consultants LaVerne Pritchard and Linda Ulbrich. As usual, the gangs from Thomson Reuters and Kroll.
The Dorsey & Whitney crew included partner Melissa Krasnow, left in red -- who with colleague Nick Ackerman, was the star of our May Law Technology Now podcast. Next to Krasnow is her friend, General Mills counsel Cam Hoang. Also from Dorsey was Patrick Courtemanche (in light blue shirt) who has joined the firm's marketing department, with Dorsey marketing colleague Bob Kleiber (in royal blue shirt).
We were also thrilled that LTN's former associate editor Katie Montgomery could come north from Iowa to be with us! Incisive's Rob Hafiz of LegalTech also joined in the fun, as did Curt Meltzer of Meltzer Consulting, and Sean Solberg, of Faegre & Benson (far right).
BTW, we send our best wishes to Linda Will, who's on the DL, for a speedy recovery, and a shout-out to Amy Juers, who missed her first Twins/Fest because she was in California (good excuse!).
Huge thanks to Luis Breazeale of the Twins for all his help getting us such great seats (behind home plate!) It was a great, tight game, a nailbiter all the way to the end, when
Mariano faced Mauer, and for only the third time in our seven year Twins/Yanks
fest history, the Yanks actually won. (Sorry, Minnesota fans :) On top of the good game, one of our rows was selected as the Hormel Hot Dog Row of the Game -- so everybody in the middle of our group got a free hot dog! What a hoot!!
Day 3 started with a few "issues" with my Garmin Nuvi 200 -- actually, it wasn't the tech's fault, it was my fault for not updating the maps. The Twins City is undergoing a massive amount of construction (Three people told me the same joke: "Minnesota has two seasons: winter and road construction") and the whole area is completely chewed up (especially downtown) rivaling Boston's Big Dig. Trying to get to Roseville to meet up with the Merrill gang, I could not find an open on-ramp to 35W North -- and ended up almost at Bloomington trying to get north. I am soooo updating my maps before my next adventure!
But because I'm paranoid and always leave extra time to find new places, even with Garmin's 90% reliable "Jill," I pulled into the parking lot just at the meeting time. Thanks to Leonard Lee and the Merrill team for a terrific conversation about social networking, e-discovery and all the challenges they present. We enjoyed meeting with marketers Scott Snyder, Diana Lepper, and Dawn Edwards!
Finally, before heading back home, I had a chance to visit with Jon Bream, my colleague from my days at the Minnesota Daily, who is the veteran music critic at the Star Tribune. (His latest "coffee table" book is Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin). We headed to Wasabi, which I highly recommend as a terrific Japanese restaurant right about halfway between the Guthrie theater and the Dome.
We noticed a lovely new restaurant in the same complex, Sanctuary, and took the opportunity to get a quick tour from Michael Kutscheid, owner and GM. The charming bistro also has a sweet outdoor garden -- and I definitely plan to visit it on my next trip to Minnesota, hopefully in October!
And if not for post-season, we'll look forward to returning next year for OUTDOOR baseball at the new Target Field (we'll bring our down coats).
A step in the right direction: President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, re gender pay, the first piece of legislation he has signed as president. AP story here, from MS/NBC. (It includes a video of Obama talking about equal pay during his campaign)
See Mon's rant in NovemberLTN ("Just Equal") about this issue within the legal industry here.
I continue my challenge to every law firm managing partner, every vendor CEO and every law dept. GC to check their own shops and fix the dismal inequities within our profession. It's a disgrace that we are in such sorry shape, when we should stand tall and be a leader in this obvious and important cause.
Photo courtesy of NBC/AP. (Obama is pictured with Lilly Ledbetter)
* Kevin O'Keefe checks in to advise us that he has just launched beta of lextweet.com. Sez he is "changing text Friday to make clear it is open to all legal community, not just lawyers." Kinda a mini-Twitter, interesting!
* Ross Kodneroffers 33 New Year's resolutions here. His # 1 prediction: at least 10% of AmLaw 100 firms will collapse by year's end. "The era of the megafirm is over. Heller Ehrman and Thelen are history. Who’s next? (Take a look at these websites - it’s positively chilling - when Goliath falls, he falls hard."
* Related topic: "Will BigLaw firms gain -- or lose-- business in tough economic times? Integreon's Ron Friedman has an interesting dialogue going on his blog, PrismLegal, here. (Hat tip to WP.)
* Turbulent skies: A holiday message from United's pilots:
December 16, 2008
To our passengers, As the Holiday Season approaches, the professional pilots of United Airlines want to assure our passengers that whether you are headed home to share the holidays with loved ones or enjoying vacation travel, we'll continue to go the extra mile to make sure that you get to your destinations in comfort with minimum stress and inconvenience. We are very much aware that the friendly skies have become less friendly in recent times because of increased costs, reduced flights and cutbacks in in-flight service and amenities. We have been at the forefront when it comes to resisting these cost-cutting initiatives because we do not believe that our passengers should be penalized for the mistakes of United's management. We still feel that way and are still fighting the fight on behalf of our passengers. As we get into the winter months, we want you to know that United is an all-weather airline. United pilots pioneered many of the safety innovations such as onboard weather radar, anti-skid brakes, enhanced weather forecasting, and improved navigation instruments that allow safe operation in inclement weather. And we will not allow our airline to fabricate excuses for not serving the needs of our passengers. On behalf of United's professional pilots, we want to extend our best wishes to all for a joyous Holiday Season. We will continue to do all that we can to make the skies friendlier for our valued passengers who continue to be our number one priority.
--The Pilots of United Airlines United Chapter, Air Line Pilots Association
The wise Bruce Marcus checks in to offer a link to his speech at our recent CMO Conference. Marcus offers great advice and has an amazing amount of common sense, which is very refreshing to encounter from professional marketers. Some are fabulous, but too many, in my experience, too often succumb to brain-numbing Firm Speak and the latest management fads.)
For example, says Marcus, describing his 1983 book, Competing for Clients: "The theme of that book is so revolutionary that people tended to not take it seriously. It was that in today’s environment, the practice of law and accounting are – or should be – guided by the clients, not by the needs of the practice." Sounds obvious, doesn't it. But it's surprising and a bit frustrating that in 2008 he still needs to trumpet that message.
I, too, was at the podium, honored to moderate a panel on "Technology Your Clients Want You to Have," with long-time LTN edit board member, Michael Kraft, of Kraft Kennedy, a NY-based consultancy. IMHO, he is one of the most knowledgeable people around on the topic of technology systems and integration for legal organizations.
We were joined by Suzanne Hawkins -- who has what I think is one of the worst titles in the profession (Chief of Practice Excellence) at the about-to-be-dissolved Heller. It was the first time I had shared the stage with Hawkins, who previously worked for GE, and she offered both firm and corporate insights during the discussion, which ranged from extranets to basic infrastructure to marketing tools.
It was a fast-paced, slightly-rowdy program, my favorite kind! With three very strong egos, it got a bit wild as we all tried to grab mike time, but it was jam-packed with great info and we certainly kept the audience awake. We didn't always agree with each others (Hawkins and I argued about the value of social networking tools), but it sure was interesting!
Thanks to everybody, especially such a great audience (and kudos to co-chairs Larry Bodine and Iris Jones (chief business development and mktg officer of Chadbourne & Parke, as well as Incisive Media's Karen Abrams and her team).
On our LegalBlogWatch, Bob Ambrogi spotted this report from Chere Estrin, noting that there appears to be a gender gap in paralegal pay (and no, the women are not making more than the men). Here's Bob's commentary:
Pay Inequity for Women Paralegals
Given that women have long outnumbered men among the ranks of paralegals, it would seem safe to assume that here is at least one segment of the legal profession where salaries are blind to gender. Surprisingly, such is not the case. In what Chere Estrin at The Estrin Report calls "the legal field's dirty little secret," it turns out that gender is very much a factor in pay scales for paralegals and legal assistants, with women earning only 93.2 percent of what men earn.
Based on an August report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Estrin writes that women paralegals and legal assistants earned a median salary in 2007 of $42,600. Men earned a median of $45,700. This was not as bad as the gap between female and male lawyers, where women earned a median of $93,600, just 77.8 percent of the median salary for men of $120,400. But still, writes Estrin, this is a field that was originally made up almost entirely of women and where women continue to far outnumber men. "No one can claim ... that men had the upper hand in terms of having a head start in the field."
So, what on earth has happened? Are you telling me that the majority of men do a better job than all women paralegals? So much so, that men will automatically get paid more? Are you telling me that men are promoted to the manager position faster than women? Not according to the International Paralegal Management Association whose membership lists approximately 90% of its members as women.
For Estrin, there is only one explanation, and that is that we still face a lack of equality between the genders. While we are less surprised by that in other fields, it is a shock for a field whose genesis is women. As Estrin says, "C'mon, Joe. Say it ain't so."
I think this is nothing short of outrageous, and I challenge every law firm, EDD vendor, and GC to drop everything -- call HR -- check records and remedy this TODAY.
Update: Turns out, the paralegals and lit support women are in just about the best posture within legal: because the news is far worse about our industry as a whole. The census figures reveal even more grim statistics: across the board, our women are earning 51% of what our men earn. FIFTY ONE PERCENT!!!!!
Why? Read some of the comments here and on EDD Update -- but one big reason appears to be that too many women don't negotiate effectively, and often take the initial salary offered to them without countering.
• Microsoft Corp. has announced a new Law Firm Diversity Program, aimed at increasing the number of women and minority attorneys within its outside counsel. It's putting money where its mouth is -- by changing its legal fee structure so that each of the company's 17 "Premier Preferred Provider" firms is now eligible for a 2% quarterly or annual bonus, based on whether it achieves "concrete diversity results." GC Brad Smith conceived the plan. "Microsoft is a global company and cannot be effective if it cannot understand and appreciate the interests and needs of the incredibly diverse array of individuals who make up its stakeholder groups," the company asserted in its announcement.
Despite "good intentions," the legal profession has a disappointing track record on attracting and keeping women and minorities, acknowledges Smith. Only 18% of partners at large firm are women, and only 5.4% are minorities, he says.
Internally, Microsoft says it is also holding senior execs accountable for the success of the program, tying 5% of Smith's (and other legal/corp affairs execs) bonus to diversity improvements of the PPP participants. It also pledged to increase fees to diversity firms by .5%, increase representation of women at more senior levels within its legal/corp affairs ranks by 1% and increase minorities in U.S. posts by .5%. It will also continue to host programs promoting diversity in the profession.
Pardon my cynicism, but those goals seem pretty tiny. I would have liked to have seen the goals be higher than .5% and 1%. But then, given Microsoft's scope and influence, hopefully the pressure will help. It really is shameful that in 2008, our profession has done so poorly in attracting and retaining women and minorities. But it's also not a simplistic issue, and it is loaded with subtleties (many women argue that they do not WANT BigFirmHaveNoLife jobs). But sexism and racism is alive and thriving in the real world, so even if the goals are modest, kudos to Brad Smith Redmond for spotlighting such an important cause. Let's hope his goals are exceeded by double digits!
• The delightful Tom Collins reports that his first mystery book, Mark Rollins' New Career & the Women's Health Club, is now available on Amazon.
Lemme give him the mic:
After selling Juris to Lexis/Nexis and turning over the reins of the blog MorePartnerIncome.com
to others, I ventured into a new career as a mystery writer. [The book]
is the first of what I expect to be a series of mysteries featuring
Mark Rollins as an ex-software entrepreneur turned amateur sleuth.
are not talking about the great American novel. This is the kind of
book you buy for airports and travel. It is a fast read that pokes a
little fun here and there, but the mystery is a serious one. I enjoyed
writing it and believe you will find reading it equally enjoyable.
As for next adventure of Mark Rollins, I had started a second book
involving attempts on the life of the rainmaker of a fictional law firm
when the project was interrupted by a return of my colon cancer. I had
surgery in May and will be dealing with radiation and chemo for the
remainder of the year. In spite of this temporary setback, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker should be on internet bookshelves by 2009.
to Tom, with our warmest wishes and thoughts for a SPEEDY recovery and
many, many, many more adventures of Mr. Collins & Mr. Rollins.
• Michael Goldblatt checks in to let us know that his Computer Newsletter's August edition contains links to Chevron GC Charles James' keynote address at this summer's LegalTech West Coast. The newsletter targets Louisiana legal professionals, and includes product reviews, mobility tools, trial practice tips, marketing resources, and more. For more info, visit www.lawyerscomputergroup.com.
• Lana Schell, who is active in the Women in E-Discovery Philadelphia chapter, is participating in a Breast Cancer 3 Day event benefiting the Susan G. Koman for the Cure program. She'll walk 60 miles and would appreciate donations to help her exceed her $2,200 goal. 411 here.
* Bob Johnston, of the Executive Council in NYC, checks in to tell us that if you were unable to attend the recent (excellent) program about "Green IT" you can watch highlights online here.
I attended the program, and was especially impressed with Microsoft's chief environmental strategist, Robert Bernard. Also speaking: Dell Inc.'s Head of Environmental Affairs, Michael Murphy; 1E's CEO and CTO, Sumir Karayi; Weber Shandwick's EVP and Cleantech guru, Paul Jensen, and Brian Dumaine, discussing his new book, The Plot to Save the Planet - How Visionary Entrepreneurs and Corporate Titans are Creating Real Solutions to Global Warming."
*The American Lawyer'sRichard Peck alerts us that K&L Gates is now the official name of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis. The firm also announced the 7/1 merger with Kennedy Covington.
* Change of the guard: Leah Bilotta has handed the marketing manager reins at RainMaker Software Inc. to Matthew Altemus, former Marketing Associate. Bilotta has accepted another position and is relocating to Saratoga Springs, New York. It's been a pleasure working with Leah, and we wish her well. Welcome, Matt.
* Michigan's Enrico Schaefer reports on a new website design for his firm, Traverse Legal, www.traverselegal.com. "Note that the blogs are fully-integrated into the remainder of the law firm website. There is no distinction in design, colors, logos, etc. between the nine distinct blogs which each capture a distinct practice area of the firm. Note that the homepage pulls in the last three posts from each blog, creating rotating dynamic content."
* Ari Kaplan notes that his new book, The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development, has been published by Thomson West.
* Lindsey Goodrich, of Chesapeake Interlink Ltd., checks in to tell us that there's a new website for Needles case management software. It offers a new look, an updated menu structure, additional features and information, with a more comprehensive organization of content areas. "We wanted pages that exhibited a high-tech, sophisticated, animated, engaging, and dynamic web presence," says marketing director Mary Ellen Bellusci.
* Whoppee! UAL's Ted is gone, and UAL is going Star Alliance with Continental. My mom found this article in USA Today by David Grossman about the great news that UAL has executed Ted -- it's discount program that tried to compete with the likes of Southwest. I hated Ted from the outset, and was always stuck on it when I traveled to Phoenix -- and always tried to manuveur my itinerary to avoid it, so I'm thrilled. I'm also thrilled that UAL had the good sense, when merger talks failed, to set up Star Alliance status with Continental, which has a superb reputation (and yes, is the official airline of the Yankees, for what that's worth, so I see a lot of their ads). It always drove me nuts when I was at Sky Harbor to have to walk right past the Continental nonstop Phx/Newark flight when I was headed to the Ted flights and a miserable 12 hour trip home with connections.
* Finally, Susannah Smith offers two gems: First, this link to Eco*Systems, which offers "green" trade show exhibits etc.
And this "BallGirl" video, which has many folks buzzing about whether it's real or faked: Download Ballgirl.wmv. Says Susannnah: "This is from my close friend Jack Rains who was chair of the Houston-Harris County Sports Authority when the (now) Minute Maid Stadium was built."
It's all over the news. Stock market declines, subprime
mortgage mess, oil prices, decline in earnings.
An uncertain time, causing uneasy speculation in
the inner circles of most law firms — how will this
Will deal work slow down? Will litigation caseloads
grow or decline? Does our bankruptcy practice
have enough talent? Should we slow down recruiting?
What about that unprofitable office in a promising
region? How can we retain our important clients? Is
there elasticity in our rates?
Such questions show good business judgment in
responding to market conditions and anticipating
their impact on the business and practice of law.
But in some firms, the smart discussion quickly
devolves. Round two might go something like this:
Our costs are way too high. Can we drive profit by
tinkering with the P&L's expense side? This of course
leads to more destructive thinking: IT is consistently
6% of gross revenue year after year. They keep growing
their headcount, and project X was over budget.
It's a bottomless pit, so we're going to stop the bleeding.
Cut 20% of your cost, we don't care how you do
it. And investigate IT outsourcing.
Unfortunately, when it comes to examining IT,
few firms ask the right questions. Alternatively, here
are better queries to start a healthy, more productive,
1. How do we compare to our peer firms, who likely
face the same issues?
Inevitably, senior management circles like the idea
of holding their firms "up to the light" with other
firms that compete for business and talent. While
such comparisons are imperfect (what firm doesn't
have a couple of skeletons in its IT closet!), they help
place into perspective your firm's current trajectory
with respect to IT programs, spending, staffing and
other resources. This is especially useful when there's
talk of random IT reductions absent the context of
the firm's technology-related goals, priorities and service
Typical areas of quantification in such a benchmarking
exercise include the comparison of capital
and operating spending, and IT headcount as a ratio
of firm revenue, total user and attorney headcounts,
profit per partner, etc.
As important as the above comparisons may seem,
they are only useful in the context of the quality and
success of the IT operation compared to others. The
gold standard for comparison is the family of IT Infrastructure
Library/IT Service Management measurements
(www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITIL) that many
firms are beginning to adopt. Rating your firm against
such standards and comparing the results to those of
other firms completes the comparison process.
2. Which new IT programs should be kept on track
and which might be deferred?
This can be a difficult conversation with senior
management if they have no prior participation or
stake in setting priorities for IT spending and resources.
IT efforts must align with the firm's business and
practice strategies — that's what IT governance is all
about. Surprisingly, many CIOs do not engage up
the food chain until it's too late to accomplish much
more than educating for the purpose of defending
programs in the face of potential cuts.
To protect IT from panic-based decisions, formalize
your IT portfolio management. (Examples of IT
portfolios would be existing and planned projects,
and ongoing IT services, such as application support.)
Portfolios not only help firm leaders understand
current programs and priorities, but they help reinforce
the need for reinvestment cycles and periodic
upgrades. And they can be especially useful to prepare
leaders for unplanned expenditures — such as
technology consolidation resulting from a merger. Finally,
they have the effect of providing CIOs a "seat at
the table," by including IT functions when firm leaders
are considering firmwide strategy alternatives.
3. Should we outsource to avoid a "death of a thousand
cuts" in times of economic uncertainty?
Outsourcing is very easy to say, but difficult
(though not impossible) to do. The concept appears
frighteningly simple in the eyes of senior management:
sign a contract, hand over the keys and watch
cost go down while quality of service goes up (or at
least remains the same). Moreover, the need to pay
attention to technology goes away.
While some aspects of IT operation — such as data
center hosting, litigation support data storage hosting,
or help desk tasks — can be considered for outsourcing,
don't assume they will immediately reduce
costs. At best, you can aim for a contractually bound
service level agreement.
What about SaaS — Software as a Service — where
vendors host software outside the firm? SaaS is
becoming increasingly prevalent, where the firm gets
the lastest version of software, but perhaps at a lower
initial operating cost and with no capital cost. But
be careful that you aren't robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The cost over the life of the arrangement will likely
be more expensive than the in-house variant. In any
event, do your homework before you make a quick
So which firm is yours? Do you have a strong IT governance model and a management-driven IT portfolio,
that helps leaders make intelligent business
decisions in both good and challenging times? Or
does your firm manage IT as a necessary evil, subject
to scrutiny when the going gets tough? The latter
is clearly challenging, but even the former has its
The world isn't perfect — there will be occasions
when cost reduction is a realistic requirement. Well
prepared firms can intelligently assess potential cost
reductions with a full understanding of the tradeoffs
and implications to the firm's business and practice.
Savvy firms will prepare A, B and C budgets, with
financial performance triggers that dictate adjustments
to IT spending in tough times, but with fully
After all, as the Chinese proverb says, "Crisis is danger
— and opportunity." Take advantage of the opportunity
to present a solid plan to your management
team, rather than be handed an edict from above to
start pulling out the knives. In both the long-term
and short, it can be a win-win for the firm, and for
Chicago-based David Baker is chair of Baker Robbins &
Co. E-mail: email@example.com.
Our June edition of Law Technology Now podcasts features Doug Caddell, CIO of Foley & Lardner, who discusses "Sell Your Tech" -- how law firms can no longer just market their lawyers, they must use their technology tools as well to win, and keep, clients.
Caddell wrote this cover story last year, on this topic, which will also be the cornerstone of our upcoming "FutureTech" track at LegalTech West Coast. The FutureTech track will also include a Green Law panel; and a "TomorrowLand" (with a hat tip to Disneyland) program featuring six industry leaders, whose presentations will be recorded for a special "six-pack" Law Technology Now podcast series in July.
The FutureTrack program, as well as the June and July podcasts, are sponsored by BlueArc, a San Jose, Calif.-based company that offers
Caddell talks about the programs his team has developed at Foley, both "client-facing" technology as well as the firm's infrastructure, and how that has helped the firm secure and serve clients.
Also joining us is Henry Dicker, head of LegalTech West Coast, who will preview some of the top attractions of the June 26-27 LTWC, including special opportunities for bloggers (free full conference passes, and more.
Law Technology Now is a joint project between Law Technology News, Law.com & the Legal Talk Network, and you can find it on all our venues -- and iTunes (where you can subscribe for free):
Frank Lopez, marketing director, recently announced Hanson Bridgett's "new look" (and new tagline, "inspired") -- with this video of managing partner Andrew Giacomini, (right) "walking" the streets of San Francisco.
Here's a clue: It's slugged "The World Accordion to Hanson Bridgett."
We've been putting the final touches on the upcoming, first-time ever Law Technology News Presents FutureTech at LegalTech West Coast.
We're calling it "The Trifecta" inside ALM, because it's the first time we've conceived an effort that includes a live presentation, podcasts, and an LTN report.
And I'm updating this post today (June 4) with exciting news: FutureTech will be sponsored by BlueArc, a San Jose-based company that provides "high performance unified network storage systems to enterprise markets, as well as data intensive markets, such as electronic discovery, entertainment, federal government, higher education, internet services, oil and gas and life sciences."
BlueArc supports "both network attached storage, or NAS, and storage area network, or SAN, services on a converged network storage platform." We're thrilled to have them as our sponsor of FutureTech!
Here's the 411:
1. Live: Day-long FutureTech track presentation at LegalTech West Coast (L.A.) on Friday, June 27.
3. Law Technology News (print/digital/website): We'll run a “FutureTech" story, in the August 2008 edition, based on the topics in the track.
FutureTech Live Program at LegalTech West Coast
Panel description: The legal profession is undergoing a dramatic change as firms face a future where clients expect “better, faster, cheaper” legal services, demand use of technology, and require accountability. No longer can law firms be run behind closed doors, managed like private clubs. Today’s firms must compete to win — and retain — business, and are expected to demonstrate the same priorities as their clients: for quality work, diversity, cost management, and responsiveness. This track will explore how firms and clients are responding to these challenges.
Law Technology News’ editor-in-chief Monica Bay will moderate all panels
1. Sell Your Tech 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. It’s no longer enough for firms to win business based on legal skills alone. Today’s savvy firms realize that they must offer top-line technology to win and keep clients. Our panelist will share how their firms have integrated technology tools, such as extranets and wikis, to increase collaboration and better serve their clients’ expectations.
Green Law1:30-3 pm It’s Not Easy Going Green.... Or is It? Using technology tools to create a “green” workplace will not only lower your energy consumption, it will increase productivity, morale, profits, improve lifestyles and health, cut costs, and help you get, and keep, new clients. How your organization can establish a program, from leadership needed to concrete programs that work.
Where is legal community headed, and what challenges does it face, as technology becomes embedded in every facet of our lives? From delivering the best possible legal services to our clients; to providing opportunities to excel in the workplace and at home; to confronting the challenges of competing interests in a global economy; it’s a heady challenge to move forward. Named for the iconic futuristic venue at Disneyland, this panel will showcase six legal technology leaders who will forecast what lies ahead — and where opportunities may abound.
I got the idea for the TomorrowLand sessions from TED (Technology Entertainment Design) -- the Silicon Valley think tank that produces amazing conferences where speakers are allowed exactly 18 minutes to talk. That's it. 18 minutes.
I loved the concept, so I'm trying this format (15 minutes) for the third session of the track -- AND -- we are going to tape them to create "Almost Live from LegalTech West Coast" -- six standalone podcasts for my Law Technology Now series (a joint project between Law.com & Legal Talk Network -- you can even subscribe on iTunes!
Finally, the LTN component: We'll produce at least one article in the August LTN, which will be available in print, digital and website versions.
We are tremendously excited about this first-ever Live/Podcast/Print/Digital/Website effort, and we hope you will join us at LegalTech West Coast, on June 27. And listen, and read! About the only media we're NOT doing (yet) is TV -- but don't rule that out for the future. Let me know what you think!
On the road again..... catchin' up with the in-box:
* Upcoming Webinars:
-- TutorPro Ltd. is offering TutorAuthor NG, designed to help law firms create online educational programs. There are six sessions scheduled this summer.
-- Guille Rayala of Workshare is inviting you to a Workshare/Microsoft webcast on automating enterprise contract management. It will be held June 10, at 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. East coast time.
* Congrats to Jonathan Ezor and the gang at the Touro Law Center's Institute of Business, Law & Technology. They are celebrating their 5th year anniversary with a bash on June 18 at the Long Island facility. Details here: _invitation.pdf
* Also celebrating a year 5 milestone is "Excited Utterances," a newsletter created by editors Joy London and Sean Hockings. It covers KM, tech, publishing, blogging, open source, and web 2.0 topics, all aimed specifically at the legal community. Check out the current issue here, which has subscription info: Download llneu_149_23_may_2008.pdf
* The San Jose Mercury News is going digital, check it out here.
* United Airlines' Red Carpet Club now offers free wi-fi -- it's still from T-Mobile but you no longer have to be a subscriber, you can simply use your RCC membership number to access it. UAL is also following suit of other airline clubs, and now you can purchase a 1-day pass online for $50 -- that can come in handy as gifts or if you have extra guests with you.
* Deborah Novachick checks in with a report about her efforts to raise money for the Tall Ships Education project.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. By the last report we raised $1,800. So wonderful, wonderful. This has been a great experience for me. It is a lot of work to get it all organized, but then you get to e-mail everyone, and hear from so many people. Very much a community experience. I am big on community.
Stayed in roughly the same geographic area all my life, went to college and lived among a very dedicated community of educators, stayed in the same career and industry all my life, and got involved in a lot of community activities. Started in kindergarten when a neighbor who was an elementary school teacher rounded up all the little neighborhood girls to start a Blue Birds group. We all stayed together from Blue Birds, to Campfire Girls, to Jr. High Campfire Girls. Then we went on to sports, cheerleading, student office, peer counseling, and, not surprisingly, many of us ended up in professions like counseling, consulting, lawyering, teaching, real estate, and nursing.
For a bunch of little girls we had some amazing adventures (at 11 I broke my foot when tobogganing with two of the most adventurous girls in Lake Tahoe -- between a Propane tank and a telephone pole – don’t try this at home -- and then I messed around on my cast so much that I had to wear assorted casts for SIX MONTHS – became known, affectionately, as “the gimp” at school, but hey, for 6 months I got out of classes early and had someone carrying my books!)
We kept widening our circle of friends, helping each other, and adding new mentors until we grew up. Then we continued to seek out mentors. And eventually we found ourselves mentoring others. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without learning firsthand (experiential education) how warm and generous people can be. And what we can accomplish as a team, a community.
I realize now that we were pretty poor as kids. But I had no idea at the time. We seemed to be surrounded by people who had so much to share.
I hope the girls at the Tall Ship Education come away with that feeling that so many things are possible. I have been prepping for a speech on generational differences in October, so I understand better now that outlooks can be very different depending on the times one grows up in.
But the answer seems to be diversity and communication. And that was exactly what my integrated public schools, the teachers, and mentors showed us when we were kids. And it is what the “Experiential Education” approach behind TSEA’s programs teaches. TSEA creates an environment where a highly diverse community is intent on a very important goal that benefit to the community (i.e., not to sink the ship and all one’s shipmates And then the magic happens.
About 300 people attended this week's Louisiana Bar Association's first Solo & Small Firm Technology Conference -- about three times the number originally expected by the organizers of this nuts-and-bolts conference.
LSBA's Eric Barefield, left, -- who has the long title of Professional Counsel for Law Office Management and Professional Assistance -- was the chief organizer of the program, which not only was a crash course in legal technology but a nifty way to rack up a whole lot of CLE credits in two days.
I was honored to be invited to serve as the lunch speaker, on the topic of blogging, and among the others of our legal tech community who participated were consultant Tom O'Connor, a recent emigre to NoLa, Andy Adkins of the University of Florida (Gainesville) Legal Technology Institute, and the ubiquitous Ross Kodner, president of Milwaukee-based MicroLaw Inc.
O'Connor and Adkins, right, are current LTN editorial advisory board members, Kodner is a former board member, and watching them in action this week reminded me of what talent and energy and heart they bring to our community.
They are three very different personalities, but one common thread permeates all three: a true passion for their work. It's a running joke among all of us that if you are on a panel with Ross Kodner, you better speak first or you will be lucky to speak for 5 minutes. He's a very effective, enthusiastic speaker, who seems to almost to burst with eagerness to share his expertise with the audience. If we could tap his energy we would be paying 24 cents a gallon for gas again.
I sat in on his "How Not to Commit Malpractice with Your Computer," and was reminded of how effective Kodner, left, can be at the podium. Aside from his dreadful PowerPoints (Ross! Don't cram so much text on each slide!) he's a whirling dervish of practical information, presented with humor and enough person asides to make the potentially dry material very palatable. In fact, often compelling.
Perhaps the best part of his presentation was when he showed an actual BigFirm document (redacted to remove any identifying material) to demonstrate how a huge firm got fired when its client was able to read all the metadata on the file about its history -- which included such tasty details as the fact that the document was actually originally created by another firm, modified by a low-level associate in less than an hour, but billed out at a huge partners' rate for far more time than one hour. Let's put it this way, Ross had the audience's attention.
Too many CLE speakers at programs are just flat-out lousy who appear to view the opportunity as a chore, and stand up and give flat monotoned monologues while attendees work on their BlackBerrys or play Scrabble on the iPods while collecting CLE credits.
Ross, Andy & Tom are examples of speakers who know how to push essential information while capitalizing on the "theater" of the podium, so that at the end of the session, the attendees want more ..... rather than looking for the fastest way to exit the room.
Congrats to Barefield and the LSBA team for presenting a high-energy, two-day program that was crammed with the pragmatic and the essential, from ethics and malpractice prevention, to overviews of basic technology tools (everything from Adobe Acrobat to Outlook to case management to scanners).
Let's turn the mic over to Larry Bodine, member of LTN's edit board and speaker extraordinaire:
I wanted to let you know that I will be
a speaker for an upcoming Law Journal Newsletters webinar, "Getting New
Business from Online Social Networks," on Thursday, May 15, 2008 from
12:00PM — 2:00PM Eastern Time.
Thousands of lawyers have created
profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Plaxo Pulse — but they don't know
how to use them to get new clients and make more money. Yet with the right
approach, online social networking can be a powerful tool for generating new
business, as some in the legal profession are beginning to discover.
live web audio conference will examine the promise of social networking for
lawyers, with particular emphasis on LinkedIn because of its
business-orientation. Featuring detailed guidance on specific capabilities and
features, it will explain how you can use social networks
* Get professional
introductions * Find and stay in touch
with former colleagues * Ask questions of
everyone in your network * Seek endorsements and
recommendations *Search for jobs *Use a social
networking listing as a web page alternative *Join or start an SIG
As a special
favor, Law Journal Newsletters (ALM) has arranged a special discount for my
clients/colleagues. You can receive 30% off the registration price or CD-ROM of the presentation when you use
promo code 2215083
The full story goes up tonight on The American Lawyer's website, but you can get a sneak preview at 3 p.m. when editor-in-chief Aric Press presents a free webinar, "The Numbers and What's Behind Them."
Press will offer key insights and analysis about what factors have influenced this year's numbers. Which firms generated the most revenue? Which are the fastest growing? Which are losing ground? Which have the strongest partner-per-profit ratio.
"This Law Firm Golden Age has been fueled by increased demand and unrelenting annual rate hikes.” says Press. "Partners have reaped record profits, partly by hard work, and partly by pulling up the ladder behind them: The firms are making fewer new equity partners. With the economy turning sour it’s doubtful that the extraordinary run that the big firms have enjoyed can continue.”
Checkin' the inbox after my Twin Cities trip:
* Peter Buck, the ever-hip San Francisco-based "chief technical architect" at Baker Robbins & Co., wants to give you a heads up if you are planning to attend Interwoven's upcoming Gear UP 2008 conference later this month. He's inviting you to participate in a one hour Interwoven/BRCO "Mini Bar Camp" Thursday April 24, from 9:30-10:30 am PST. (It's limited to folks planning to attend Gear Up 2008.)
Buck and Neil Araujo will serve as session leaders and they'll screen the topics and choose five attendee leaders to lead discussions. Confused? E-mail Buck, who, btw, is the author of a terrific article in the next issue of LTN, about wikis. (I'll add a link when the issues goes live.)
* Bruce MacEwenreviews Altman Weil's Legal Transformation Study, released late last month. Four possible scenarios for delivery of legal services between now and 2020 are outlined, including:
Blue-Chip Mega-Mania: A model that emphasizes the global consolidation of
legal service providers and the dominance of giant law firms with vast global
presence and offerings spanning all legal areas.
-Expertopia: A scenario that envisions the increasing complexity of the law
and challenges of corporations operating in multiple environments worldwide,
thereby placing a premium on specialization and expert-driven cultures at legal
E-Marketplace: A model built on the premise that technology will be a
catalyst, but not the core, for an industry transformation in which an array of
Web-based technologies will make information more available and expert judgment
Techno-Law: A scenario that contemplates rising corporate investment in
automation capabilities throughout the legal services industry, leaving only the
high-end services to be delivered by legal professionals and potentially
requiring a complete reconstruction of the traditional business models in the
legal services industry.
* Stuart Brodsky checks in to
let us know he's left his spot as National Program Manager, Commercial
Properties, for the EPA's Energy Star program:
Anna Stark at the EPA will be continuing to coordinate outreach to you and your peers.
To smooth her transition, we are requesting that any questions you
would have for me be forwarded to Sandra Khananusit
(firstname.lastname@example.org) at ICFI International. ICF will review your
inquiry and identify if it should be immediately addressed by EPA, or
managed by one of the many consulting support team members who have
gotten to know many of you so well over the years.
I'll update you when Stuart lets us know his next gig.
Jo Haraf, one of my favorite LTN edit board members, has finally done what she has been threatening to do for a bit -- leave legal tech! We are soooooo gonna miss her!
I'll turn over the mic to her:
After 10 exciting and productive years, I'm leaving my home at Morrison & Foerster. MoFo is a great firm with a fabulous future but it's time for me to turn the page on a new chapter in my career. First, I plan to spend some time having fun with my family, drinking wine with lunch and having watching the sunset over the San Francisco Bay - probably with another glass of wine just for good measure.
During my down time, I'm want to give back to my community so my dog and I have signed up for a literacy program where we work as a team assisting children with reading difficulties. Yes, it is an unusual program but it's a good fit for us. I'm passionate about improving literacy and he loves children. (Photos available on request….
With some quiet time, I'll be looking for the sweet intersection of those things I love to do and those things I do well. I expect to share my passions through writing, professional speaking and returning to my consulting roots. Many of you know me well, I would value your wisdom on what you think I should include in my next chapter.
I have gained so much from your advice, good humor and occasional sympathies in the past decade. I owe many thanks to you and LawNet/ILTA for your support of my professional and personal growth. If I can be of any future service to you, you'll find me at email@example.com after March 28.7
Before I leave, a bit of business. MoFo is looking for a new CIO. If you would like to live in the San Francisco Bay area (or perhaps NY and you love to fly), please drop me a line. I will be delighted to present your name to firm management.
* New blog: John deCastro reports that Innotas has launched PPM Perspective. (Oh boy, another TLA (three letter acronym). This one stands for Project and Portfolio Management. Eight folks at the organization are listed as authors.
* My colleagues over at ALM Research have published the 2007 Billing Rates and Practices Survey. It covers solos to mid-sized firms across all 50 states, with about 5,000 respondents. Author: Margaret Daisley.
* Larry Bodine checks in to let us know that JD Supra has launched:
It is an online platform for lawyers in any practice to post court documents, filings, articles, client alerts and other content freely accessible to anyone doing legal research.
* Not too late to be early! Houston's the place to be Thursday and Friday... Many of the "usual suspects," including moi, will be on hand for Chere Estrin's Litigation Support Leaders SuperConference, at the Crowne Plaza. The who's who includes keynote speakers Mike Arkfeld and George Socha, along with LTN edit board members Brett Burney and Tom O'Connor. We'd love to see you.
It's a great crowd, with top firms and corporate legal departments, including Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Bingham McCutchen, Howrey, Thompson Hine, Ropes & Gray, et al. Come join us! The fun starts at noon Thursday!
Chere has kindly offered a FOF (friend o' faculty) discount of 10% -- so just tell them you saw it in The Common Scold to claim your not-really-early-bird discount. Pop her an e-mail at for details or visit the website.
A little late because I've been just a bit pre-occupied by post-LegalTech New York stuff, but this is too much fun not to revisit:
• Sizzing hot: The powers-that-be over at Skadden ain't too thrilled about the latest non-billable-hours activities at Skadden Insider, a blog written by two anonymous Skadden-ites. Not when they decided to poll readers to find out who is the "hottest young woman lawyer" at the firm. Check out Brian Baxter's story in The American Lawyerhere. Not surprisingly, the scheduled competition for the "hottest male associate" has been, um, er, "suspended." BTW, I'm sure the firm isn't too thrilled that the blog was named a 2007 Honoree in the American Bar Association's ABA Journal Blawg 100.
Just sent February LTN to bed, now dealin' with the flurry of activity before LegalTech New York, but want to play catch-up with da ol' in-box:
• Kudos to Susman Godfrey, one of four law firms selected byThe National Law Journal for its 2008 Pro Bono Awards. "The firm represented, to the tune of $2M in billable hours, the Texas Cities for Clean Air Coalition in its successful efforts to block 10 new coal-burning power plants that would contribute to global climate change." • More kudos, to TheBlawg Review, for its Blawg Review of the Year, won by Colin Samuels for the third year in a row. Runners up: Eric Turkewitz' very clever riff on the NY Marathon, and in third place, Deliberations, by Anne Reed.
• Peggy Weshler of ILTA wants you to know about the upcoming Insight 2008 program that will be held April 15, at the Hilton London Bridge Hotel. Vendors: the deadline to sign up as a sponsor is Friday 1/25.
• Alvidas Jasin, who will join the podium with me at the "It's Not Easy Being Green... Or Is It?" panel at the CIO Forum during LTNY, was elated to learn that Thompson Hine's marketing dept. came in 5th in the "MLF 50" roster, from ALM's Marketing the Law Firm newsletter. Jasin is the head of bizdev at the firm, based in Cleveland. Proskauer Rose took first place.
• Ross Kodner was impressed with this InfoWorld article "Why XP Must Be Saved." (Note, you have to scroll down on the link to Ross' blog to find the post).
• eWeek has an hilarious way to kill time at airports, etc., with 10 games. Check them out here.
• Were you as surprised as I was to learn that CompUSA is going under? They sure got a lot of my disposable income over the years.
• Almost last but not least .... the holidays may be well over but this holiday card is just too funny to wait until next year. From my pal Mary Kay Lawless, click here.
• Bright Lights: This has nothing to do with tech, but after SI columnist (boy do we miss him) Rick Reilly kept raving about Friday Night Lights, I finally checked out the NBC drama. Even if you hate football (which I do), it's flat-out awesome. Amazing writing, subtle and nuanced, it is really, really good television. I actually watched my first football game a couple weeks ago, hoping the NY Giants would smash those Pats. I might actually WATCH my first SuperBowl this year, but I still hate football. I don't enjoy a sport that involves paralysis, too much testosterone, and shoving. (Yeah, yeah, rocket fuel. I get it. Baseball's not perfect.)
Go Giants (but try not to break any bones while you are at it.)
I don't know about you, but it just seems impossible to me that we are really in 2008. Where did the 90s go? Or the 80s for that matter? :)
Anyway, happy new year, and may the sun shine (not too) brightly on you this coming year, may moonshine and the stars bring you joy as well.
Forward... on to the inbox:
• Martin Metz, CIO of O'Melveny & Myers, and Dean Olsen, CTO, Steptoe & Johnson, will be featured in a Jan. 14 (Monday) webinar offered by Compuware, discussing "Trends in law firm IT Management: An executive discussion." Both of their firms use Compuware's Vantage technology.
• Congratulations to Ross Kodner, who married Carolyn Carissimo on New Year's Eve! Ask him to send you their PowerPoint wedding announcement.
• Barry Schneider, who with LTN board member Larry Bodine, edits the newOriginate montly online newsletter about personal marketing for lawyers, wants you to know about an upcoming workshope that he will be conducting with Mike Cummings. It will be held on Friday, Jan. 25 at Belo Mansion (home of the Dallas Bar Assn.). For more info, click here.
Our colleagues in the UK have recently launched BusinessGreen, a terrific new website that is loaded with news, articles, webinars, links, a blog, and other resources to help your organization reduce its "carbon footprint."
A bit of catchupbefore I head back to the beach (the news never sleeps)....
• First, thanks to Pro Bono Net, and in particular, Pam Weisz, for this kind write-up of our new Law Technology Now podcast. ALM's CEO, Bill Pollak, serves on the board of this terrific organization, which helps facilitate pro bono services by our legal community.
• Tom Baldwinis one of many folks who are changing jobs effective as the year ends:
I have accepted the Chief Knowledge Officer position at Reed Smith, which has
skyrocketed up the Amlaw 100 in recent years and will likely exceed 1B in
revenue for 2007. I'm eager to get started, but will look back with fond
memories on my time with Sheppard Mullin.
My last day at Sheppard Mullin is December 28th and I
start at Reed Smith on January 7th, 2008. My new email address will be here.
• Michael Kraft checks in to let us know that Kraft, Kennedy & Lesser Inc. -- which is celebrating its 20th anniversary -- has re-branded and is now officially Kraft & Kennedy Inc., or Kraft Kennedy in everyday parlance:
Over the past two years, our firm
has enjoyed unprecedented growth. Among the services most in demand were data
center consolidation projects, virtualization, email archiving, Exchange 2007
upgrades and Office 2007 deployment planning. All indications are that this
trend will continue. To prepare for this growth, and to ensure that we maintain
the highest possible level of customer service, we are aggressively hiring new
talent while investing in our existing people and service
Our efforts in this regard have
resulted in the establishment of a series of internal expert teams, nicknamed
"xTeams." In place since 2006, the teams expanded their skills and influence in
2007. They played a significant role in most of our initiatives by providing
in-depth expertise and guidance to many project teams and clients. We currently
have xTeams specializing in messaging, virtualization technologies, enterprise
content management & collaboration, thin client technologies, O/S and
desktop design and deployment, storage and business continuity planning.
Congrats, Tom and Michael (here's to another 20!)Both Tom and Michael are members of LTN's edit board.
• It's not year-end yet, but the buzz over LegalTech New York is already in full gear.
Amy Juers' Edge Legal Marketing has announcedthe creation of an online newsroom, the Edge Room. We'll post more details as they become available. You can read all about it on the LTNY newsletter, which also happens to feature yours truly, here.
• Our colleaguesat ALM Research have just released the 2007 National Law Journal Billing Survey. 411 here.
The jury's in.... with wonderful results, for our fifth annual LTN Law Firm & Law Department Awards. The lucite will be presented at our gala LTN Awards Dinner, Tuesday February 5, during LegalTech New York at the Hilton N.Y. See post directly below for info on how you can join us!
Most Innovative use of Technology by an In-house Legal Department Gene Stavrou - Kraft Foods Most Innovative use of Technology during a Trial Ropes & Gray Graphics and Litigation Technology Support team Most Innovative use of Technology for a Pro Bono Project Wills for Heroes Foundation
CONGRATULATIONS to all!
Special thanks to our independent jury, Andrew Adkins III, of the University of Florida's Legal Technology Institute; Fredric Lederer, of the William & Mary School of Law; and David Whelan, of the Law Society of Upper Canada — all members of LTN's Editorial Advisory Board.
LTN's editor-in-chief Monica Bay will present a live webinar, "Media Relations Bootcamp for Lawyers," on
December 11, from 1-2 p.m. (Eastern), presented by The National
Constitution Center. For registration information, click here.
One of the themes I'm particularly fixated on right now is the impact of EDD costs on litigants. I was blown away by my colleague Julie Triedman's article, "Buried Alive," in The American Lawyer's special Litigation 2007 issue,focusing on Corporate Fraud. (Free, but reg req'd).
I think everybody's been so exhilarated by all the potential EDD revenues, that they haven't thought about who exactly pays for all these explorations -- and who's paying the price. it's a chilling article.
Hopefully, as EDD settles in, and the FRCP rules get oiled through real life use, and Sedona and EDRM models/guidelines get nuanced, there will emerge some realistic standards. If not, the resolution of cases may too often be determined by ability-to-pay, not justice. We should know by now that is not a formula that ends up with good results.
The fabulous Tom Collins, formerly top dog at Juris Inc., is handing over the reins of his very popular blog, More Partner Income, so that he can spend more time enjoying golf... and he's threatening to write a novel. Let me turn over the mic to him:
Blogs like law firms require a life of their own if they are
to continue to serve the community. I want to let you know that I will be
reducing my role as the host of morepartnerincome in the weeks and months
ahead. It is time give up my 5:00 a.m. ritual of posting and deleting spam and
porn trackbacks so that I can spend more time on my next
venture -- retirement.
I don’t plan on disappearing. I will still be one of the
authors for morepartnerincome, at lease for some time, but the job of making
sure that morepartnerincome is serving its mission is being handed off to Brian
Ritchey: an attorney, a prolific writer and an experienced advisor to law firms.
Brian will also take over as the editor in chief of the Managing Partner
Advocate, a bi-monthly publication focused on issues affecting law firm
Brian, previously a Regional Vice President of Juris, Inc.,
became part of the Practice Management Division of LexisNexis upon the purchase
of Juris by LexisNexis in July 2007. He actively practiced law for 7 years in a
firm in Birmingham Alabama and made a career stop with a leading case management
company prior to joining the Juris team where he used his knowledge of law firm
dynamics to help partners, directors, shareholders and legal administrators
manage their firms’ practice through the utilization of technology, strategy and
Brian obtained his J.D. from Cumberland School of Law after
attending the University of Alabama for his undergraduate degree in English. He
was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1997, is licensed and in good standing with
the Alabama Bar, the U.S. District Courts of Alabama for the Northern, Middle
and Southern Districts as well as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ritchey will transition into his new role over the next six
weeks. The blogs mission continues to be providing information to law firm
leaders that will enhance partner income. That objective is achieved by doing
the right things right. When you do everyone wins including clients and
non-partner members of the firm.
As for me, in addition to more golf (once I recover from
recent knee surgery), I have my sights set on at least one (and maybe more)
novels. How about a bored, retired entrepreneur turned detective—think that
Steven Brill, the feisty creator of American Lawyer Media (now ALM), is now CEO of Clear, which provides express security lines at U.S. airports. Brill just announced a deal with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to provide Clear cards to the firm's frequent fliers. Clear will provide onsite signups at the firm's San Francisco, Silicon Valley and New York offices. The firm has 1,000+ lawyers and 18 offices in North America, Europe and Asia.
Clear provides members with access to separate line through airport security checkpoints, by using an identity card that contains their encrypted fingerprint or iris images. The
charge is $99.95 (you don't get charged until the government approves
you). You can start the process at flyclear.com -- and then you finish
it at one of the company's locations where biometrics are captured
(fingerprints and iris images) and your ID is validated, says the
Orrick's chair/CEO Ralph Baxter, left, says using the service saves time and hassles for the firm's legal professionals, thus improving client service. Says Brill: "It's great once again to be serving this firm and the legal community with a product that fills a real need."
Clear launched in 2005, and currently is operating in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Reno, Newark, San Jose, Orlando, and New York's LaGuardia, JFK, Westchester and Albany. Denver's due to open shortly. The company has 75,000 members so far, says Brill. The company was listed on FastCompany.com's 2006 Fast 50 roster.
Yes, Orlando. I could have used Clear during my August fiasco at Orlando (Delta STILL hasn't
found my luggage, now day 76). In fact, I think I'll sign up.
Update: 12/01: I enrolled in Clear and it was a very easy process. I filled out the paperwork online, and then when I was heading to California last week, I stopped by their area at LGA. The only thing that was a hassle was the iris "capture" machine. It took about six tries to get it to work, and it's headache inducing. But I refused to give up, and get trying until the machine finally got it. A small headache I'm happy to pay if it saves me time and hassle later.
You'll need asbestos gloves to read the Letters pages in the November issue of California Lawyer magazine, reacting to its "Mothers in Law" article in its August issue. (They aren't yet online, but I'll post a link when they go up.)
The eight letters are surprisingly vitriolic. Of course, these articles always generate the de rigeur clueless response from at least one male, in this case Fresno's Mark Sandstrom (let me guess: white? middle class? with a wife?), who whines that "fathers have been practicing law for years without any persecution anxieties and without demanding special recognition or treatment for 'paternity issues.' "
And Edgar Pacas, of Monrovia, charges "Your editors are obviously gender-biased feminists who refuse to give a balanced story on gender." San Francisco's Jerome Ghigliotti Jr. complains about women who depart the profession to have children, and suggests that they should have to reimburse their firms and schools for their education.
(Um, dudes: Start listening to your wives, partners, sisters, girlfriends and daughters.)
But while those three letters border on the comical, more interesting — and more important — are the nuanced letters that address the lack of progress on many of the important workplace issues that confront the legal profession (yes, both men and women).
Risa-Lee Miller, of Agoura Hills, complains that "I've read pretty much the same article every few years," and then reduces the articles to archetypes: • Women starting their own firms because they're disgusted with male-dominated firms. • Progressive big law firm with token program for maternity leave/part time work • Woman at top of career recounting school of hard knocks • Burned-out woman (ex-) lawyer who prefers diapers to mergers • Tough guy who bills 3,000 hours and expects everybody else to.
"So why, if women are changing the face of the legal profession so much, do you still need to recycle the same article? Could it be that despite all those changes, things are staying just the same?" she asks.
And Walnut Creek's Lisa King raises the caste system issue: "Why is there no concern for the paralegals and legal assistants...?" Her firm gives perks to female lawyers, but "the 'staff' receive nothing other than what California state law allows. No flexibility in schedule, no options -- period. When is someone going to give consideration to others in the legal industry? Law firms do not succeed with attorneys alone."
The reality is that anybody who spends five minutes in a legal environment (or any American corporate environment) knows that creating balance between work and family (or other non-work interests) is difficult, challenging, aggravating, nuanced, and frustrating. There are no simple answers.
I was talking to a colleague today, who spends a lot of time in Italy, and he observed that while there are many advantages to our American culture, our lives seem driven more by economy than society these days. That, I think, is not a good thing.
These are not easy issues. And we have to keep talking about them, if we want to live well and contribute to the well-being of this little blue ball we share. As any gymnast knows, the balance bar is not easy to straddle.
Campers: It's that time again -- the deadline to nominate a firm or law dept for our 2008 LTN Awards is pumpkin day! Don't get spooked by seeing your biggest competitor heading to the podium to accept that beautiful star award. Don't be a ghost fading from the spotlight! Get the credit that's due to you and your organization! And btw: you aren't limited to nominating your own organization (Vendors! Take note!).
Our goal is to find the very best projects and people in law firms and law depts -- and to give them a deserved acknowledgement from our legal community!
It's a simple process: just download this form to nominate your organization in these six categories:
• I.T. Director • Champion of Technology • Most Innovative Use of Technology by a Law Firm • Most Innovative Use of Technology by an In-House Legal Department • Most Innovative Use of Technology During a Trial • Most Innovative Use of Technology For a Pro Bono Project (including Green Law projects).
The candidates will be evaluated by an independent team of three experts, all members of the LTN Editorial Advisory Board.
Remember: it's like the lottery: you can't win, if you aren't nominated!
More 411 here. Or call Kevin Iredell, at 800 888 8300. (PS: He can also help you if you are trying to vote on the online Vendor Awards ballot and don't have your Sub ID). Email him at kiredell AT alm.com.)
• Firms have jumped aboard VoIP, with 35% reporting that they have between 76%-100% of their offices using it.
Finally, you may recall that yours truly has been on a campaign to get firm leadership to recognize the importance of treating non-lawyers (or non-billing-lawyers) as contributors to the firm. (Actually, that was the impetus for the 2003 launch of Law Firm Inc.)
I think that is an essential component of the move from running firms like private clubs to the brave new world of law where firms run like corporations -- valuing EVERYBODY on the team. It's foolish and old-school to not realize that practicing law isn't just about the attorneys.
Part of my effort is to shriek about the need to include firm EXECUTIVES and top administrators (read: IT directors) on their websites. Clients (and journalists) find it annoying to try to reach a top executive and find that leader missing in action on the firm directory. It sends a screaming message that the firm doesn't see that executive as a "real" member of the operation.
Well, with 116 firms responding, now 40% are listing their IT director (46 firms). It's a tiny step, but in the right direction.
And perhaps things are slowly getting better at the firms: For two years in a row now, 65% of respondents said they are, in general, satisfied with their job -- and this year, 63% report that they are treated with respect by firm lawyers. And it doesn't hurt that the firms at least recognize they have to cough out decent bucks to retain talent: 38% are making more than 300K a year, up from 29% last year. Thirty-nine percent are between $200K-$299K, and only 1% make less than $100K.
After a week in Florida, I have now have been wasting a whole lot of time visiting Delta's lost baggage website every couple hours, speaking to way-too-cheerful people with thick Indian accents who keep apologizing, and then listening to "Happy Days are Hear Again" when they put me on hold (bad choice for a soundtrack, Delta) only to come back on the line with more apologies.
Never mind that this is the fifth consecutive trip to Orlando where my luggage has been "delayed." (Yes, yes, I should NOT have checked it but UAL bumped me to DL, so I knew I was going to go through "secondary screening" -- so I thought it would be easier than having the TSA folks dig thru my dirty laundry.) No good deed goes unpunished.
ANYWAY, please say a prayer to the karma godz or St. Anthony for me, eh? It's now a full week later and NO sign of my bag. Sigh.
Moving right along -- it's time to play a bit o' catchup:
• Sneak preview: Marketing guru Larry Bodine and his pals (Barry Schneider, principal, and Michael Cummings, managing director, of Sage PDI Inc.) have launched a new monthly online newsletter, Originate, designed to help firms become more proficient at business development. The site officially launches Monday, but you get a sneak peek. The group will also offer webinars, and the site has a list of other resources, including white papers for download. Check out Larry's article, "The Moveable Object: Generating Leads by Finding Buyers in Trouble," here.
• Charlie Rogers, of LexisNexis has taken on a new role, and now is managing the practice management independent consultants. He's also organizing efforts for an October 200-mile "Ride without Limits" bike trip in North Carolina that will benefit the United Cerebral Palsy organization:
Riders commit to ride 100 miles on two consecutive days and raise a minimum of $500 for UCP. We currently have 11 riders and continue to raise our fundraising goal. We have people from all walks of life on the team, both internal to Lexis and external, including Wells Anderson, an attorney and president of Minnesota's Active Practice. We also have Kevin Stilwell, co-founder of Time Matters, who is now the head of software development for all LexisNexis Practice Management products.
• We hear that Arnold & Porter is looking for a CIO. For the 411, e-mail Beverly Lieberman, of Halbrecht Lieberman Associates, here.
• Neil Squillante of TechnoLawyer checks in with a fun post for Labor Day weekend. • Jason Velasco's got a new gig, as veep of client services at Merrill Corp. "I will be responsible for managing Merrill's consulting organization, project managers, and data collection/forensics group." New e-mail here.
• Our colleague John Bringardner found these two links discussing some competition for West and Lexis case reporting. The New York Times (requires registration) and Tim O'Reilly.
• More good works: Daphne Eviatar, a senior reporter with The American Lawyer, will also be exercising for charity in October, in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in NYC.
In just the past year, two of my closest friends, both under 40, were hit with breast cancer. At the time I had no idea how prevalent it was, but I've since learned that every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disease. Almost all of you probably know someone who's had breast cancer, and the horrible ordeal so many women have to go through. Because of that, I'm writing to ask for your help in fighting it.
• Finally, Ross Todd, of The American Lawyer, did a terrific and clever spin on a tech story, detailing how "I spent the day with five doomed hard drives and a batch of condemned CDs" that were being sent to the high tech slaughterhouse. Read it here.
As we mentioned below, survey season is well in bloom. At last week's ILTA conference, JoAnna Forshee and her team at Envision Agency released the 2007 ILTA Technology Survey, which you can download the Executive Summary here: Download 07_ilta_survey.pdf
The 32-question web-based survey was distributed t0 467 ILTA member firms that ranged from 100 to 3,400 attys -- and yielded an impressive 27% return rate with 126 surveys received by the June cut-off date.
We were thrillllllled with one result: "Law Technology News topped the favorite legal periodicals list in 2007, up 16% from 2006." (Out of 24 choices.) And da Scold got exciting feedback, too: "This year, the response rates are up and The Common Scold, Dennis Kennedy.com, Law.com and TechnoLawyer all registered notable increases compared to 2006." Wow!!! We're humbled! Thank you, ILTA.
Among other interesting results:
• Counter to anecdotal wisdom, GCs may not have as much clout as everybody thinks on technology purchases within large law firms. "Less than half of respondents cited their clients as being key influencers in the IT purchasing process. In fact, only 39% of large firms (200+ attys) look to clients..." What's the biggest influencer? 61% say "peer-authored articles are the overwhleming favorite," followed by product reviews and articles by independent consultants.
• There's a lot of new tech getting installed: 56% of respondents have installed network upgrades or servers; 42% have bought wireless devices; and 47% have purchased new desktop hardware.
• Mirroring the Socha/Gelbmann report, ILTA respondents note that finding and retaining qualified litigation support/e-discovery staff is expected to become an increasingly difficult challenge.
OK, I confess: I WAS dog sledding last week, not in the Yukon, but in Orlando at ILTA, so I'm late to the party about the hysterical Nixon/Peabody "It's not a Theme Song" brouhaha. Let me turn the mic right over to Ambrogi at Law.com's Legal Blog Watch:
Unless you've been dog sledding through the Yukon the last two weeks, you know the story of the song, which the firm commissioned in celebration of being named one of Fortune magazine's 100 best companies to work for. You know that Above the Law blogger David Lat posted the song on YouTube, only to have Nixon Peabody demand it be taken down. Although a firm spokesperson asserted, "Fun is not prohibited here," the blogosphere saw it differently. Lat collects many of the links while The New York Times, Blawg Review #123 and my colleague Carolyn Elefant all provide summaries of the ensuing PR debacle.
Which brings us to this latest honor from VH1. Why pick the Nixon Peabody song as favorite summer jam? "Best Week Ever" comic Michelle Collins explains:
"Guess what, law firm? You can’t stop the tubes! And thank god. Why? Because 'Everyone's a Winner at Nixon Peabody' is officially our Favorite Jam of Summer 07! The type of tune that makes you want to get out the Bartles & James, brush n’ braid your long gray hair, tear off your stirrup pants and miniature horse cardigan, and make out with your 77-year-old husband on a nude beach somewhere in Pueto Vallarta. For real, check it out -- it's almost too good to be true, the kind of motivational song usually saved for competitions between unable-bodied peoples, not high-power blood-sucking attorneys."
Yes, everyone's a winner at Nixon Peabody -- except, it appears, the PR staff.
Be absolutely sure to check out VH1 link -- it's hysterical.
I guess the question is, should they fire the person who dreamed this up, or give him or her a HUGE bonus???
Technology services can be a revenue producer, not a drain on the bottom line, argued panelists at a Tuesday afternoon ILTA panel, "Practice Management as a Business Unit to Measure Success."
Like the billing panel discussed below by my colleague Claire Duffett, the practice management panel pushed the case for development of "client-facing" tech tools that increase the firm's competitive advantage.
Many firms are using a variety of technology tools to serve their clients, from vanilla basics to highly complex tools serving clients across the globe. These are fee-based services, so they generate revenues, the panelists explained. Extranets are especially popular. Latham, says Heaps, currently has 150 active client extranets -- and expects that number to explode to 600 by the end of the year.
At Latham, the firm's technologists also developed a complex "Compliance Net" tool that helps clients generate necessary legal paperwork without even having to pick up the phone and talk to their lawyer.
Contract management is another area that can be served by technology tools and extranets, said the panelists.
Savvy firms are realizing that they not only can charge clients for some of these services, but the very presence of the services can be a critical "differentiator" in getting and retaining new business. In fact, many firms now involve the firm technologists in planning sessions before they meet potential clients; and then some technologists to the face-to-face meetings with the targets.
It's a good move. In LTN's June cover story, Sell Your Tech, Douglas Caddell argued that corporate clients want to buy not just legal services, but the accompanying technology.
Tom Baldwin noted that tech teams must market internally to win over the firm's attorneys, even to the point of creating brochures that educate about the available technology tools.
The bottom line -- that these tools can make money -- is a strong argument for swaying the hearts and minds of lawyers. "Some attorneys see what we are doing as a goldmine," observed McKenna. "Others see it as a necessary evil."
And it helps if the IT department gets a "can do" reputation. "Come to us, because we get it done," said Baldwin.
Once the firm attorneys embrace the "client-facing" tech services, the IT department can reap benefits, observed the panelists. It's a lot easier to get resources when you help put the black in the bottom line, they said.
It's official: The billable hour is dead. So says Elizabeth Broderick, partner at Sydney-based Blake Dawson Waldron.
Like an opera death scene, this demise has been slow and noisy, but it's here, she says. Sure, we're still hearing a few final whimpers from the most change-resistant -- but most of the 200-plus attorney firms are now offering alternative pricing methods and tacking on tech services that add value to the traditional attorney-client relationship.
At the ILTA panel titled "Understanding the Lawyer-Client Relationships," Broderick and others discussed how their firms are modernizing client interaction. Three tactics emerged:
* Create pricing models according to the nature of the client. For example, when Bryan Cave draws up paperwork on a deal for its real estate client, the fee is based on the square footage of the building involved, explains Connie Hoffman, director, client technology group. Other fees are project-based or decided by the scope of legal representation.
* Establish an IT department focused exclusively on client technology and separate from the team that handles day-to-day firm operations. Hoffman's division creates extranets, web-based file databases, and business intelligence tools for Bryan Cave clients. These are add-on services to the firm¹s legal representation (and yes, you can charge extra for them).
* Use tech to develop programs that automate repeatable legal work. Blake Dawson has created an online program called Virtual Lawyer. Clients log on and obtain basic legal advice, Broderick explains. For example, a marketing team can submit a potential advertisement, and the program will flag objectionable words. This frees attorneys up to perform more complex legal analysis and gives clients a faster turn-around on simple tasks.
Just a very quick post, as I dash off to the Women in E-Discovery meeting, but just wanted to let everybody know that International Legal Technology Association's annual August Sauna/Convention is up and running -- and as always, crowds, crowds, crowds. Record setting crowds -- Randi Mayes, exec director, said the conference drew about 2,700 attendees here in Orlando at the JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton complex (including members, vendors and media). And 500 were first-time attendees, she noted.
A few teasers (I'll have more later):
* The keynote -- probably the best I have ever heard -- featured astronaut Jim Lovell, above, who spoke on "A Successful Failure." His inspiring presentation focused on the lessons he learned as captain of the Apollo 13 mission -- and how they can be applied to all of our work in legal technology. He spoke the five words that have become emblazoned into the American lexicon, "Houston, we have a problem."
Lovell's main theme was to trust your team and your training, and your knowledge; expect the unexpected; pay meticulous attention to detail; be creative; do not give up; and above all, never, ever, travel anywhere without duct tape.
* CT Summation has gobbled up DocuLex's Discovery Cracker suite of e-discovery processing software. The company reports that the acqusition will complement CT Summation's transcript management product. Here's the 411.
CT's other EDD products include iBlaze, WebBlaze Enterprise, and CaseVault, as well as CT TyMetrix and TyMetrix360.
She discusses the dilemma faced by many IT admins, to enforce standardization and restrictions on personal technology.
"In the age of consumerized technology, banning employees from using personal technology at work only creates an endless and exhausting game of Whack-a-Mole. The only way to win is to manage both the technology and the insistent employee through a cooperative care model, says the Yankee Group," she writes.
Perelman continues, noting that consultant group found that half of employees feel their own tech is more advanced than workplace tech. The Yankee Group cites consumerization of tech as one of five things (content, client, connectivity and collaboration), "that will be a nightmare for IT departements," creating maintenance and support issues that can overwhelm resources.
"IT can fight this tooth or nail, or it can conceded and adopt a Zen-like approach which will give control to users through a cooperative care model, reduce IT's burden and improve internal customer satisfaction."
Instead of focusing on fixing broken stuff, IT could foster an environment that helps users fix their own stuff; with increasing use of wikis, blogs, tagging and social networking, she says.
"The only way for CIOs to transform their business is to reallocate resources," says YG's Joshua Holbrook.
P.S. She also posts this very interesting story from the Wall Street Journal about how users can make an end run around IT policies they don't like. It includes tips for how to use software that's banned (e.g., AOL instant messaging), how to visit websites that are blocked by your firm, how to clear your tracks from your work laptop, etc.
Working Mothermagazine, and consulting firm Flex-Time Lawyers, have released the 2007 Best Law Firms for Women roster. It lists the top 50 firms (in alpha order) that are working to improve retention and promotion of their female attorneys.
Winning firms are notable for "work/life and women-friendly policies, including flex-time, child care, and women-focused mentoring, leadership and networking programs."
Post-vacation clogged in-box, let's start clearin' it out!
* Neil Squillante and his gang at Technolawyer have released BlawgWorld 2007, its annual downloadable PDF printable "e-book" of the best posts over the last year. Here's the press release about it.
They were kind enough to include one of my Katrina-related posts from New Orleans. You can download the book -- which has a user-friendly index of participating blogs to make it easy to find posts -- here. And here's Bob Ambrogi's analysis and resulting comments, on Law.com's Blog Watch.
*The ABA Annual Meeting is gathering this week in San Francisco (alas, I can't attend), and there are two events of particular interest to our tech community. On Saturday, from 11-4 at the San Francisco Fire Dept's training facility at 2310 Folsom, volunteer attorneys will be providing free wills to firefighters, as part of the Wills for Heroes program that was launched by South Carolina lawyer Anthony Hayes.
Holly Michael and the gang at LexisNexis have also been involved, and LN provides its Hot Docs software, which helps the volunteer lawyers create templated wills. (You don't need to be an estates practitioner to participate).
We'll be writing more about this terrific program in an upcoming issue of LTN, I'll come back and put in a link here when it goes live. For info about the SF event, call Holly (937-602-0908) or Anthony (803-447-5002).
Another good works project is being shepherded by the ABA's Rachael Patrick -- a joint effort of the ABA's Council on Racial & Ethnic Justice; Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity in the Profession; and ABA Center on Children and the Law; and the Commission on Youth at Risk.
It's a free CLE program, "From Foster Care to the Pipeline," that will be held Friday (Aug. 10) from 2-3 pm, at Moscone West, room 3108. The discussion will cover how at-risk youth can be helped to transition out of foster care, into law school or other careers in the justice system. For 411 or a reservation e-mail here or call 312 988-5408.
*Two of my colleagues have news:
Andrea Lazarow of our ALM Events division wants to be sure you know about the upcoming Sept. 17 program, "Managing the Discovery Process: The Role of Paralegals and Litigation Support Professionals," which will be held at the Harvard Club of New York. The session is designed to help litigation professionals effectively manage e-discovery; faciliate communication between outside counsel and in-house personnel, manage EDD vendors, and prepare for Rule 36(f) conferences. I've been asked to keynote the event, and I'm very much looking forward to the exciting program, which is co-chaired by Sherry Harris, of Hunton & Williams, and Mark Reichenbach, of MetaLincs. Here's a download with the 411: Download paralegal_sept07.pdf
Jessica Morales, of ALM's Law Journal Press, reports that our online store now has its own blog: Check out www.LawCataBlog.com. Morales says the site includes practice tips from top attorneys, special discounts on ALM pubs, and other goodies.
* GreeningLaw: Equitrac Corp. has announced a new discount program, designed to encourage firms to participate in the new ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge, designed to reduce paper consumption and waste by adopting best practices in office paper management.
Equitrac says it will directly support the ABA-EPA program by offering a 10% discount on its Professional 5 Print Tracking Options to all law firms that adopt the Challenge’s best practices in office paper management. The Pro 5 system helps users track scanned, copied, faxed and printed documents along with call accounting and disbursement capture for discovery and recovery of client billable expenses, it explains.
ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge recognizes law firms that participate in EPA’s WasteWise program and institute at least two of the following practices for office paper management: ensuring at least 90% of all paper purchased is made up of recycled content, instituting a policy for double-sided copy and printing of drafts and internal documents, and recycling 90% or more of all discarded office paper, file folders and envelopes.
* Mo Green: San Francisco Bay Area law firm Cooper, White & Cooper says a green practice area has been a part of the firm for 30 years, "but in response to popular demand, they have made it an official group." The "new" Green Practice Group includes seven partners and is being co-lead by Kristen Thall Peters and Dee Ware. 411 here.
* Change your Outlook: After 13 years in the legal tech community, Peter Ozolin (who started with Legal Anywhere, and has had various posts in firms and with venddors) has moved to Bend, Ore., and joined Beaverton, Ore.'s Remote Technologies. E-mail here.
*Saturday funny: You might think twice about taking a vacation, after viewing Dan Guttman's recent post on Larry Bodine's LawMarketing Listserve. Here are two examples of what faced "victims" upon return to the office: (Click to enlarge)
As we file our final reports about LegalTech West Coast, June 20-21 in L.A., I turn the mic over to LTN's news editor, Claire Duffett:
On Thursday, June 21, I had the opportunity to moderate my first LegalTech panel, “The Evolving Role of the Law Librarian in Practice Support.” Our four panelists were seasoned librarians and practice support experts. The panel was part of a track sponsored by Thomson West, and it functioned as an informal Q&A session for less-experienced librarians to discuss how they can do their jobs more efficiently. Librarian Camille Reynolds, of Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott, emphasized how today’s legal librarian acts as the firm's information gatekeeper, with a key goal to provide attorneys with relevant news without inundating them with too much information. Most firms, agreed panelists, still ask library assistants to manually filter aggregate news alerts so lawyers only receive articles relating to their practice areas.
Of course, many vendors are diving into this potentially lucrative space, to try to create increasingly sophisticated relevance filters, to eliminate the need for human screenings of alerts -- including our parent company, ALM, which offers a new search tool, Law.com Quest. While many firms use a combination of products as the core technology for their libraries, others are trying to centralize as much as possible on a foundation product. Todd Bennett, west coast head librarian of Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner said he relies heavily on WestKM, a "knowledge management" system. Before his firm acquired WestKM, it relied on a document management system to perform file searches and used homegrowndatabases that required attorney time to populate the database with information. Both proved inadequate, he says. WestKM automated these processes. New documents are now indexed every night. Other tools he found particularly useful were flags next to all citations and the ability to create hyperlinks to all cites. In contrast, Shearman & Sterling based its knowledge repository system on LexisNexis' Concordance database product, which is often used by litigators to manage cases, said librarian Hilary Burg. Attorneys use the database, which is branded with the Shearman name when they log onto the site, to search in-house data, external primary documents (such as SEC filings), and news reports from outside sources. One thing’s for sure: Whatever’s happening behind the curtain, users don't want to know. They just want a single place to conduct all their research, said S&S’ global litigation support manager George Rudoy.
BALL IN YOUR COURT, by Craig Ball Winner: American Society of Business Publication Editors Northeast region: 2010 Gold Award, Best Contributed Column; 2010 Silver award, Feature Series.
Trade and Business Publications International ("Tabbies"): 2010 Bronze award, Best Column.
Click here for links to Ball's columns on our EDD Update blog (See right nav bar).
Winner: Apex Award to Larry Port, for excellence in green writing, for Macho & Mulch.
Solutions Penalty Box:
Here are current contenders for the most use of incomprehensible jargon and cliches, including the banned word, "solution," in a press release. :)
June '08: Can You Adapt? EDD is wreaking havoc on traditional law firm caste systems, with new roles for attorneys, paralegals, IT and other litigation support staff. Opportunities abound for the ambitious. Winner: 2009 Gold Award, Best Technical Article: American Society of Business Publications Editors, Northeast region.
Nov. 08: Just Equal, my rant about the disgraceful gender-based pay discrepancies in the legal profession, and Editor's Note, about visiting the United 93 memorial in Pennsylvania, with my mom. Winner: 2009 Honorable mention, 2009 Tabbies, Best Editor's Column.
October '07: An Undercurrent of Fear: A report on the challenges of e-discovery. Winner: Bronze, 2008 Trade, Association, Business Publications International Tabbies competition. Best Special Section. 2008 American Society of Business Publication Editors, Northeast region: Bronze: Best Technical Article.
Katrina's Wake: In the April '06 LTN, Monica Bay and photographer Russ Curtis travel to New Orleans, to report on the legal technology community's efforts to rebuild practices and lives post-Hurricane Katrina. Links temporarily unavailable, will be back up soon. Winner: 2007 TABBIES: Honorable Mention, Best Feature.
Fear Factor: Why Lawyers Aren't Using Technology. The ABA's most recent tech survey found that only 11.7% of the nation's lawyers are using ANY trial technology. We interview lawyers, vendors, and consultants to find out why, and the answers are shocking: lawyers are afraid of technology, don't understand it, and are overwhelmed by too many choices. Vendors take some of the blame by not educating lawyers about tech's potential. The dramatic conclusion: lawyers must embrace change, and adopt technology, or they simply will not survive in today's competitive marketplace.
Low Visibility: As law firms move toward a corporate, rather than private club, model of operations, they are bringing in "C-level" executives to help them run their organizations. Yet many law firms still cling to old-school caste systems, where only the attorneys have real power, and everybody else is invisible. What's the litmus test? Take a look at the firm websites. Can you search for the CIO? For the COO? For the HR director? If not, the firm may be paying only lip service to change. Savvy firms realize that if they want to keep top-level executives, they better start treating them like partners.
No solutions! We're determined to build bridges, not walls -- and to explain and demystify technology in our three magazines. That means no jargon, no acronyms, and no "insider" gobbledygoop. Words like solution, robust, mission-critical, strategic planning, initiatives, deployment are just silly cliches that have become meaningless. We like plain English. Vendors! Flaks! If you mother doesn't understand your press release, don't send it out.