Doing business in today's world is about innovation and improving efficiency. Sometimes this is a challenge for law firms as they are steeped in precedent, history and tradition. But Jordan Furlong has given us some other reasons in his post "Why lawyers don’t innovate." Hard work and talent will, hopefully, continue to be rewarded. But innovation in the legal profession may also determine real success in the future. I think Jordan has some valuable insights and he also draws liberally from a great article by Atul Gawande, a medical professional with much to teach the legal profession.
Hopefully after reading this, the next time you are encountering challenges while trying to persuade any group, lawyers or otherwise, to take innovative action, you will think of a rural birth-delivery nurse in India and smile broadly rather than showing frustration.
No one thinks it is unusual or wrong for a professional copy editor to write copy for a law firm's website. But blogging has always been a more personal endeavor. Some lawyers who are time-challenged or whose writing skills are better for briefs than blog posts have turned to "ghost bloggers" and now some lawyer blogging services will include the blog content seemingly written by the lawyer for a fee. So does that practice mean a lawyer is posting "misleading" advertising content that violates a lawyer's ethical responsibilities?
Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog, who writes the Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog joins Sharon Nelson and me for a lively discussion on the ethics of ghost blogging on our August 2013 edition of the Digital Edge podcast Lawyers Swarm to Ghost Blogging, But is it Ethical? If you know Kevin, you know that he is not shy about sharing his opinions and he thinks the ethics of ghost blogging are very questionable. But Kevin also explores how this shortcut practice also robs the lawyer-blogger of the true value of blogging-- building relationships online and establishing the lawyer's individual expertise and personality.
I hope you will find this Digital Edge podcast on the Legal Talk Network enjoyable and informative.
I've never really used the term BigLaw. It seemed a bit pejorative and I tend to think lawyers are lawyers, no matter their practice setting. In a recent New Republic article “The Last Days of Big Law - You can't imagine the terror when the money dries up” author Noam Scheiber defined them as the largest 150 and 250 law firms in the United States. In these firms PPP (Profits per Partner) are often in the 7 figure range. As you might assume from the title, this piece was controversial and generated some strong push-back. AmLaw Daily with “Don’t Bury Big Law Just Yet” and The National Law Journal rushed to refute the claims with statistics. Then Bruce MacEwen on his AdamSmith Esq blog and Patrick J. Lamb in this New Normal feature responded to those numbers and came to different conclusions. Many more postings followed.
This is all great fun, unless, of course your life and livelihood depends on who is right.
If you have some interest, but not the time to read all of these articles, a nice summary of the major points can be found in this post on The Last Honest Lawyer blog.
If you are a lawyer in a different practice setting and care more about your future than BigLaw's, I direct you to my recent blog post Big Ideas in Law Practice: Your Handbook for The Future. In the referenced material there, we tried to talk at least as much about solutions as challenges.
The news that Ross Kodner passed away from a heart attack on Tuesday, two days after his 52nd birthday has shaken all of us who knew him. He was a legal technologist before anyone knew what that term meant, one of the best, most entertaining CLE presenters a lawyer could ever hear and he was my friend. He has spoken at our Oklahoma Bar Association's annual meeting and several times at our Solo & Small Conference. Oklahoma lawyers loved him. I co-presented with him at ABA TECHSHOW several times. I can't imagine how many lawyers have heard him speak at least once. He was on my mental list for our 2014 Solo & Small Conference. I regret not making that 2013, so we could have had a last chance to hang out.
I could go on, but Craig Ball has captured Ross so perfectly in his tribute Rest in Peace, Ross Kodner: A Giant in Law Office Technology that I will direct you to read that.
Robert Ambrogi also reminds us how freely Ross donated his time to the legal community in the face of tragedy with his post RIP: Ross Kodner, Legal Technology Guru. Ross gave so much to me. When I began my current line of work he gave me tips, advice, encouragement, papers to read and much more.
Ross and I chatted briefly at ABA TECHSHOW in April and resolved to set a lunchtime conference call to catch up more. But we never got around to it. Ross was a true "people person." Making that call to or lunch date with someone you care about and haven't seen in a while would be a fitting tribute.
The Big Ideas issue of Law Practice Magazine is an incredible resource. (July/August 2013 Issue) I say that with a great deal of pride as John Simek and I were the guest editors of the issue. We had a great team helping us. The great news is that you can get this issue free on your mobile device by downloading the Law Practice magazine app and then this issue of the magazine. Instructions follow.
This magazine is a blockbuster because it has the thought-provoking and provocative ideas about the future of our profession from our thought leaders. Readers of my blog are familiar with Richard Susskind, who wrote The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the nature of legal services. He wrote our cover story, with the same title as his new book Tomorrow’s Lawyers.
But that is just the beginning of the challenging content in this magazine issue. To name but a few features:
Read this issue from cover to cover and think about it. Every prediction may not be right, but you will have to agree that you have been given access to a lot of "Big Ideas."
If you are reading this on your mobile device:
How to Access – Download the Law Practice Magazine App today for free!
You can also read the articles from the magazine online on the LPM section website.
(Normally issues via the app are only free to Law Practice magazine subscribers and LPM section members. This is a limited time offer.)
How to Access – Download the Law Practice Magazine App today for free!
In the early days of the Internet, some lawyers did very well for themselves by being among the first to have a website or a blog. As more law firms launched web pages and it became a more crowded field, search engine results became more important. Schemes and tricks to move up in search results were circulated.The law firms and other businesses were hit with a barrage of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts promising to raise your search result profile.
Our new Digital Edge podcast features Stephanie Kimbro and is called How People Search for Lawyers: The Consumer Law Revolution. Stephanie sees a new phase of Internet marketing coming. (In many ways, it is already here.) Will the marketing power offered by branded legal services networks benefit lawyers? And will the branded legal services networks make it much harder for a solo or small firm trying to do their own SEO to get noticed online?
This is an area where many lawyers will be cautious. If a branded network commits an ethics violation in advertising, could the lawyer participants be held responsible? What might seem to be common business practices in marketing for others could be seen as inappropriate fee splitting for lawyers. If you don't have a clue what a branded network is, you might want to listen to our podcast.
Stephanie is the author of the newly published book on the topic, The Consumer Law Revolution: The Lawyer's Guide to the Online Legal Marketplace.
(As an aside, at our recent Oklahoma Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference, Debbie Foster reminded us of the very old trick of repeating the same phrase in white font on a white background on a website to improve the search results. Of course the search engine companies figured that one out long ago, but many in the audience remembered and chuckled.)
When I first started doing law office technology tips, bashing Microsoft was an easy way to get laughs. Most lawyers used WordPerfect and viewed changing to the less-powerful Microsoft Word as completely illogical. And most importantly, there was no reveal codes feature. The legal community loved reveal codes as a quick and easy way to fix most any document formatting problem. My friend, ace technology consultant Ross Kodner, gained quite a bit of notice with his email signature tag-line "Friends don't let friends word process without Reveal Codes." I think Ross was the first one I heard get a great laugh from an audience by saying Microsoft should have named email program Outlook as Lookout instead. Back then the first major computer security threats like viruses came to users via Microsoft Outlook.
Today WordPerfect has a much smaller market share and Microsoft Word is a very powerful tool. But many lawyers still use WordPerfect and the folks at WordPerfect continue to make great outreach to and discounts for the legal community. There is no doubt most business users use Microsoft Office.
But a whole lot of people also use iPad and Android tablets. Common questions I get from lawyers are "How can I edit Microsoft Words document on my iPad?" or "When will Microsoft release Office for the iPad?" Many greeted the announcement a few days ago of the release of Office Mobile for Office 365 for the iPhone as a step in the right direction. While that will prove useful for some, it actually signals Microsoft digging in its heels in its refusal to release Office Mobile for the iPad. (And of course it requires a paid subscription to Office 365, which many users are not ready to do.) Why iPhone only? Well, most of us who watch such things believe it is a triumph of corporate strategy and internal politics over service to its users.
That's consistent with the history and corporate culture of Microsoft. The corporation has always focused on world domination and destroying rivals rather than merely outselling them. The idea that Microsoft will pass on the billions to be made from sales of Office for the iPad (rumored to be largely completed, but shelved) just to prop up sales of the Surface Pro, Windows RT and even Windows itself seems a bit crazy. Well, Bill Gates and his minions are all a lot smarter than me, but they are just flat out wrong here. I don't even think that they are making the right decision for Microsoft and its shareholders. Check out this piece, Microsoft sticks it to the iPad with Windows-first Office strategy from ComputerWorld.com for a behind-the-scenes look. It makes sense to me that the Office team just lost to the Windows team in Microsoft internal decision-making because of power and not strategy. As noted in the article, Windows RT seems to be really losing steam.
So Microsoft is still crazy after all these years, taking a world domination approach more like Star Trek's The Borg rather than a smart strategy from the dominant company that it is.
Of course, I often edit Microsoft Word Documents on my iPad. I know how. What this move really does is convince iPad users to stop waiting on Microsoft (if they haven't already) and look at the Microsoft Word editor alternatives.
So this is really good news for products like Quickoffice Pro HD for iPad ($19.99), recently acquired by Google, Documents to Go® ($9.99 for basic and $16.99 for Premium) and CloudOn (free but cloud-based with Internet access required to operate.) The danger for Microsoft is that when it finally gets around to releasing Microsoft Office for iPad, no one will care. I also think Office 365 will be a difficult sale to legal professionals for a while. The legal community is accepting secure, cloud-based services, but being required to keep all word processing documents in the cloud seems like too much for many.
Apple also announced that later this year IWork for iCloud will be released, providing another alternative to Office 365.
Maybe Microsoft just wants to share the wealth with its competitors. Yes, the sound you hear is pigs flying with Paul Simon singing in the background, Still Crazy After All These Years (YouTube.)
After five years of doing my Sites for Sore Eyes column in GPSOLO Magazine, it is time to move on.
But I wanted to go out with a bit of style, so the final column, Websites for Bidding Farewell, covers lots of fun and interesting sites from websites that will do your breaking up for you, to websites that will help you with digital estate planning issues, to websites that let you really have the last word and websites that will make sure your website or blog doesn't die with you.
The Sites for Sore Eyes column first appeared in the May 2007 issue of the GPSolo Technology eReport and went on to GPSolo Magazine from there. Courtney Kennaday, director of the South Carolina Bar’s Practice Management Assistance Program (PMAP) was a co-columnist for quite some time. Thanks to the leadership and staff of the GPSolo Division for allowing me the opportunity. But it is time to say farewell to this project.
© 2004-2007, Jim Calloway. All Rights Reserved.
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