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    Archive for March, 2008
    What a Feeling! Reflections on ABA TECHSHOW 2008.
    Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

    ♫ What a feeling.
    Bein’s believin’.
    I can have it all, now I’m dancing for my life.
    Take your passion
    and make it happen..♫

    Music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Keith Forsey and Irene Cara

    Having returned from speaking and attending ABA TECHSHOW 2008, I now have the perspective of time to reflect on what I saw and heard and discern the trends and emerging issues that flowed from the conference.

    First off, there were many new faces at Techshow this year, particularly among the speakers. This was a good thing as the introduction of new ideas and perspectives that fresh blood brings to the conference cannot be underestimated and Techshow does a fine job of this. There were also many new vendors on the exhibit floor and that added a degree of novelty to the conference as well!

    The social events (Techshow after Dark, the Techshow speaker dinners) were a great success, even if the band at Techshow after Dark was a bit loud. The attendees were wonderful – they came loaded with lots of questions, terrific comments and suggestions and fully contributed to the sense of sharing and knowledge exchange that is so much a hallmark of ABA TECHSHOW.

    In terms of the undercurrents running through the educational sessions, certainly e-Discovery continues its relentless march through the legal corridors, transforming everything in its path. It is difficult to believe that there is any litigation lawyer in North America today who is not at least aware of the need to consider the implications of electronic evidence in virtually every case.

    It was reassuring to see the emphasis given to two closely-related issues: Records Management and the Paperless Office. These two go hand in hand, in my opinion. Furthermore, I saw a sea-change at this year’s TECHSHOW – and that was the overall acceptance that integrated case (or practice management) and legal accounting software is the foundation on which any law firm should now be built. Virtually all lawyers (at least at TECHSHOW) now recognize that these products are not only getting better and better (Amicus Attorney+ Amicus Accounting, LexisNexis Front Office and Back Office (Time Matters + PC Law), Practice Master + Tabs 3, LawStream, ProLaw etc) but they save a tremendous amount of time and effort as well. Furthermore, they are now being integrated into the paperless office, which only increases the scope of their use and reach.

    Two other related issues: IT Security and Privacy were also big and will only get bigger as we move to a fully digital law firm and concerns over personal privacy and identity theft continue.

    And lastly I was most impressed by the emergence (or should I say, surge in interest) of using a Mac in a law office. These sessions were very effective in not only demonstrating the usefulness of this platform and the benefits that it offers; they also pretty much debunked most *if not all* of the myths that Windows and IT staff put forward to stop a Mac from being used in a Windows-centric office and network.

    A cultural trend was the sheer number of people (mostly faculty!) who were actively blogging as the conference went on. The list included: Kevin O’Keefe (Real Lawyers Have Blogs), Sharon Nelson (Ride the Lightening), Dominic Jaar (Wines and Information Management), Tom Mighell (Inter-Alia), Jim Calloway (Law Practice Tips Blog), and many others! Indeed, I smugly did a blog post on the Keynote Speaker Marc Rotenberg while listening to the presentation right from the ballroom floor, only to find that Reid Trautz (Reid My Blog!) seated right behind me, on his MacBook Pro, had beat me by posting to his own blog moments before on the same topic (if anyone thinks that there isn’t any competition among bloggers, think again!). How cool is that?!!

    Notable and cool speakers for me were:

    Tom Mighell (*the Chair of this year’s Techshow*) who did a great job in interviewing the great Keynote Speaker Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC.ORG). Steve Best, my co-speaker in Drafting Bills Your Clients Love to Pay was exceptional and made my job effortless. Ben Stevens, who did both sessions in the Mac Track, was terrific.

    And of course the speakers on 60 Sites in 60 Minutes (Tom Mighell, Reid Trautz and Craig Ball) and 60 Tips in 60 Minutes (Brett Burney, Barron Henley and Sharon Nelson) were funny, entertaining and also informative in continuing the fine TECHSHOW tradition of these sessions!

    This was a wonderful TECHSHOW – and I can’t wait for the 2009 version when my fellow Law Practice Magazine Profitability co-columnist Laura Calloway takes over as 2009 TECHSHOW Chair! This is one conference that is is sure to stoke your imagination and take your passion and make it happen!


    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    Privacy and Lawyers
    Thursday, March 13th, 2008

    ♫ How do we ever keep this secret
    How do we keep it in the dark…♫

    Words and Music by A. Wilson, N. Wilson, A. Hammond, H. Knight, recorded by Heart.

    I have just heard Marc Rotenberg, the Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC.ORG) in Washington, DC speak on: Who’s Watching You? A Conversation About Privacy on the Internet, the keynote session at the 2008 ABA TECHSHOW.

    To say that he was effective at putting the fear of God into the audience regarding the privacy, or lack thereof, of your information on the Internet, would be a gross understatement.

    Along with a number of highly interesting issues that he raised (in light of the Spitzer resignation) he dealt with the issue of the collection, retention and pervasiveness of personal information when using most internet search engines, web mail services, IM services and the rest.

    When you consider that web search histories, emails, IM Chats and the like could be demanded from third party providers and these demands could include solicitor-client communications or research being conducted for a client, the collection, use and disclosure of this data takes on particular importance.

    This raised the inevitable question: “Just how do you protect yourself when using the Internet?” Marc responded by referring to the EPIC Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools. This web page lists links to services that allow you to send ‘snoop proof email’, surf anonymously, block ads, cookies and spyware, call using VoIP in a private manner, use secure instant messaging, ecrypt and erase files and information on your computer, set up secure firewalls and much more.

    This is a treasure trove of information for anyone who is concerned about their information being available on the web. They also help lawyers answer the question of how do they keep things secret….

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Back up Your Blog!
    Sunday, March 9th, 2008

    ♫ Say you’ll never leave me, never leave me alone.
    Say you’ll never leave me, never leave me alone…♫

    Words and music by Tony Banks.

    One of the lessons we have all learned when using computers – usually the hard way – is to back up your work. There are few sensations to match that sinking feeling when you realize that your document/file/hard drive has been deleted, crashed or simply disappeared – leaving you frantically trying to recover your data.

    Yet many of us have websites and blogs that are hosted by third parties – and we are blissfully unaware of whether or not these third party hosts have dutifully backed up our work in the event of some disaster. Enter HTTrack Website Copier. This free application (distributed pursuant to the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation) allows you to make a backup of your website or blog by downloading to a local directory all the directories, HTML, images and other files found in your blog or web site using your original link-structure. Once downloaded, you can ‘browse’ your web site or blog as if you were online. It is quick, easy to configure and easy to use.

    This is a great application and a fine example of the other free software to be found under the GNU free licence. And best of all, by backing up your web site or blog, you can be assured that your data will never leave you alone…

    (Hat tip to Dominic Jaar for putting me onto HTTrack Website Copier!)


    Posted in Issues facing Law Firms, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Listen to the Music…
    Friday, March 7th, 2008

    What the people need
    Is a way to make em smile
    It ain’t so hard to do if you know how
    Gotta get a message
    Get it on through
    Oh now mama, don’t you ask me why
    Oh, oh, listen to the music…♫

    Words and music by Tom Johnson, recorded by The Doobie Brothers.

    Kevin O’Keefe’sReal Lawyers Have Blogs” blog was kind enough to start a series of Q&A posts regarding the upcoming ABA TECSHOW in Chicago on March 13-15, 2008 with yours truly. Rob LaGarta did the interview:

    David Bilinsky of Thoughtful Legal Management [LexBlog Q & A]

    As the ABA TechShow draws nearer, you’ll start to notice certain LexBlog Q & As that bear the TechShow’s badge (above) in place of our guest’s photo. This is your indicator that the interview you’re about to read is with a legal professional scheduled to present at TechShow, and that at least a portion of our conversation is focused on the event.

    Our first guest is David Bilinsky, Practice Management Advisor and staff lawyer for the Law Society of British Columbia and author of the blog Thoughtful Legal Management. Dave will be speaking on two panels at TechShow:

    • “Records Management Technology: It’s A Small World After All”, with Jesse Wilkins (3/13, 4:15-5:15 p.m.)
    • “Drafting Bills Your Clients Will Rush To Pay”, with Steve Best (3/14, 1-2 p.m.)

    Find out more about Dave’s blog and his goals for TechShow after the jump.

    In the interview I talk about new ABA Techshow speakers including Kevin O’Keefe himself, Nils Jensen from Victoria and Dominic Jaar from Montreal, among others.

    What is interesting is that Rob asked about where did the idea come from about using music lyrics to start my posts. You have to read the full answer on Kevin’s blog – but: “What the people need Is a way to make em smile
    It ain’t so hard to do if you know how..gotta get a message, get it on through..oh oh, Listen to the Music….”

    Posted in Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Client Concierge…An Idea Whose Time has Come?
    Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

    So you got the looks but have you got the touch
    Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright
    But that won’t keep me warm in the middle of the night
    That don’t impress me much…

    Words and Music by Shania Twain

    This week I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of distinguished corporate counsel for the Legal Marketing Association – Vancouver Chapter speaking on: How in-house counsel view their lawyers, law firms and their marketing and business development efforts.

    Panelists were Marie-France Leroi, Senior Counsel at Terasen Inc, Gigi Chen-Ku, General Counsel for Translink, Heather Northrup, Senior Counsel with RBC Financial Group and Sue Doi, Counsel for Intrawest ULC. There was a great deal of discussion on the topic on how outside counsel can best work with in-house counsel. During the presentation we had a question from the floor that opened up a whole new area of discussion …and that was novel and interesting as well.

    The question was in the context of the corporate client wanting to provide feedback to the outside firm – but the outside firm never appearing open or willing to hear the message. Worse, the danger signs are there for the outside law firm – calls by in-house counsel are not being returned promptly, the invoices appear to include ‘education time’ for the associates, the firm now appears to have an attitude of ‘entitlement’…among others. So the question is – what is the best way for the outside firm to hear the message early enough to prevent the loss of the client?

    The solution that was proposed from the audience (some of the best tips come from the attendees during presentations!) was for the marketing department to establish one person…call them a client concierge…to establish a line of communication with the client. The client concierge would be there to act in a similar manner to a concierge in the best hotels…to ensure that the questions and needs of the hotel guests are being met. The client concierge can hear the concerns and questions of the client – and ensure that they are directed to the right people in the law firm – and act as an early-warning system to ensure that the law firm is not only attentive to the client but is seen as being proactive and open. This implicitly recognizes that while the legal services may be top-notch, the service levels surrounding the delivery of those legal services may not be.

    It is an interesting concept and one that recognizes that the firm as a whole is a team and the team has an overarching reason (*or reasons*) to ensure that the client is happy and has an open channel to raise small concerns before they jeopardize the entire client relationship. It is really a question of client ‘handling’ and ensuring that the firm has the right ‘touch’ for the client and continues to impress the client with all that they do.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Trends | Permalink | 4 Comments »