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    Archive for December, 2009
    2009 Seasons Greetings!
    Saturday, December 12th, 2009

    ♫ Then one foggy Christmas Eve
    Santa came to say:
    “Rudolph with your nose so bright,
    won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” ♫

    Music and Lyrics by Johnny Marks.

    I would like to take a moment and wish each and everyone the Best of the Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

    This past year was challenging for so many and in so many ways; the year ahead will be a year of rebuilding and recovery. The problems confronting the world today at times seem almost insurmountable; world hunger and world peace, the continuing challenge of preserving the environment for future generations, the need for education and freedom for all among many others. To all I hope for Peace, Hope and Happiness. I hope your goals for the New Year find good ground and take root.

    As has become my tradition at this time of year, and as my gift to you, I offer a few minutes of solitude and reflection. This slide show combines two of my loves – music and photography. I hope this slide show and music (please turn your speakers on!) brings to you a time of calm, joy and peace. The music is of course, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Johnny Marks and is performed by the Argyle Alumni Choir, Argyle Senior Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, copyright Frances Roberts, Director. Used with permission. I hope you enjoy the combination of the music and the photos.

    Best wishes for a safe holiday filled with warmth, comfort and good cheer!

    2009 David J. Bilinsky – Thoughtfullaw.com Christmas Slide Show from David Bilinsky on Vimeo.

    Hat tip to Steve Matthews for the Vimeo suggestion!

    Photos © 2009 David J. Bilinsky

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | 12 Comments »
    The Cost of Silence in a Social World
    Monday, December 7th, 2009

    ♫ Reach out and touch
    Somebody’s hand
    Make this world a better place
    If you can… ♫

    Music and lyrics by N. Ashford & V. Simpson, recorded by Diana Ross.

    Gartner Research just issued their top 10 strategic technologies that companies should be considering as they prepare their business plans for the New Year. “Social Computing” has come back to the top 10 list after an absence over the last two years. Gartner stated:

    “Social Software and Social Networking. Social software includes a broad range of technologies, such as social networking, social collaboration, social media and social validation. Organizations should consider adding a social dimension to a conventional website or application and should adopt a social platform sooner, rather than later, because the greatest risk lies in failure to engage and thereby, being left mute in a dialogue where your voice must be heard.” (www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=777212)

    But wait one minute: how many law firms permit their staff to have access to social media while at their desk? Larger and many smaller law firms have blocked access to such sites as Facebook (www.facebook.com), Twitter (www.twitter.com) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) on the belief that doing otherwise would lead to unproductive time and loss of productivity. Or they are fearful that the firm will suffer a loss of confidentiality or have a loss of face arising from an errant post. As a result, they have not taken any steps to add any social networking to their marketing mix.

    What does it matter if your law firm is not on Facebook?

    According to Facebook:

    * Facebook contains more than 300 million active users
    * 50 per cent of Facebook active users log on to Facebook in any given day
    * The fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older

    OK – you say your clients are not on Facebook. Think again. With the developed world sitting at one billion people – Facebook is reaching about 30 per cent of the developed world (or at least those with access to a computer and time to use it). What business enterprise can afford to ignore a market of that size?

    OK – you say that social media is not an effective way for your firm to communicate your message. Think again. In an article “Social Media – An Effective PR Tool for Law Firms” (http://tinyurl.com/yhanp3t) stated: “According to the recently released, 2009 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, one in eight firms uses social networks. The report also stated that tools that use the Internet are significantly increasing the productivity of lawyers and decreasing their wasted time.”

    The authors then go on to list the “Four ways legal professionals can benefit from social media:”

    1. Enables the exchange of valuable information.

    One of the more effective social media tools is blogging. “Blogging is particularly useful for enhancing one’s legal knowledge. An attorney who commits to maintaining a blog, or frequently participating in conversation on social networks, builds credibility as they develop and refine substantive expertise in their area of practice through their online content. Discussing developments through writing and online interaction requires a very concentrated effort and is an ideal way for a lawyer to share their expertise and establish themselves as a leader in their area.”

    2. Expands your professional network and opens up opportunities.

    How often do we hear about lawyers wanting ways to reach out and meet new clients? According to the authors: “Social media will put you in touch with others who are interested in your subject area, and getting to know these various groups online will provide you with possible collaborators, employees or employers.”

    Another benefit is exposure. “Since social networking sites are search engine friendly, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from a member of the press asking you to provide insight for a story or to publicise a recently won case.”

    3. Social media has the power to humanize your firm.

    We all know that people want to hire lawyers, not law firms. Accordingly, “Potential clients may be less intimidated to pick up the phone and call or email you if they feel like they know you. Sometimes being able to match a name with a face can increase their trust and comfort level, and put you a step above a competing firm that is not as personable.”

    4. And last but not least, social media can attract potential clients.

    The firms that are reluctant to adopt social media in their firms may find that they are on the outside looking in as other firms have soared when they reached out and touched someone.

    (this post is based on a column originally published in PracticeTalk in the Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch’s newsletter BarTalk)

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    2009 CLawBies!!!!
    Monday, December 7th, 2009

    ♫ But the thrill we’ve never known
    Is the thrill that’ll get you when you get your picture
    On the cover of the Rolling Stone…♫

    Lyrics and music by Shel Silverstein, recorded by Dr. Hook.

    Steve Matthews of Stem Legal has announced that nominations are open for the 2009 ClawBies! Like past years, Steve prefers that nominations are done by blog post. Steve has stated that he doesn’t want categories mentioned for your nominations, so here goes my list of outstanding Canadian legal blogs:

    1. Erik Macgraken’s ICBCLaw blog: Erik has jumped on using social media technology to push the envelope to reach out to new clients in new ways. His latest innovation is to have a link for a free video consultation via Skype right on his blog. He is prolific, knowledgeable and very readable! A great example of how young laywers in a traditional law firm can think out of the box. Hats off to Erik!

    2. Tied with Erik, in my opinion, is Donna Seale and Human Rights in the Workplace. Like Erik, who helped break the mold in terms of what law firms can do with blogs, Donna has done the same in terms of how a solo lawyer with a husband and kids can do rather than accepting the traditional paths that are available to lawyers with families…work crazy hours and sacrifice the kids or drop out and raise a family. She is a leader in striking out and using social media to carve out a place in our profession that allows her to balance raising a family as well as becoming a leader in her legal area. Great stuff!

    3. My third nomination is Dr. Michael Geist’s Blog. Dr. Geist is using social media to focus public (and legislative attention) on matters of copyright and digital information. Academics are typically seen being quoted in the media or used as experts in government hearings. Michael has broken that mold by taking matters of copyright, law and the internet to the people and focusing their attention on why these matters should be their concern. In the process he has amply demonstrated how democracy can be exercised and the rights of the individual can be amassed by the use of social media, including blogs and Twitter.

    4. Honourable mentions: Steve Matthews’s Vancouver Law Librarian Blog and Jordan Furlong have taken themselves out of the running (courtesy of being the judges in the ClawBies!). But their work stands head and shoulders above all – Steve for both his law librarian blog as well as Stem Legal and Jordan for Law21 – they are leading the charge of how blogs can be used by lawyers (and legal institutions) to work differently (I am reminded the IBM’s motto was “Think!” and Apple’s was “Think Different!”. Steve and Jordan’s motto must be “Dream Different!”).

    Other honourable mentions: Doug Jasinski’s newly revamped Legal Marketing Canada, of course the multiple-award winning Slaw.ca, Gary Wise’s “Wise Law Blog”, Stan Rule’s “Rule of Law Blog“, Gerry Riskin’s “Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices” and Connie Crosby’s Blog.

    Best upcoming blog to watch: The BC Courthouse Library Society’s blog “The Stream“. This is an innovative idea…incorporate a blog into a traditional library web site (well – have a look – it isn’t *exactly* a traditional web site!). I expect great things from this blog in the months to come!

    Those are my picks. I *know* that I have failed to mention many new and exciting blogs and I feel badly about that ..the people that are out there crafting their exciting legal blogs are looking for validation for their work and recognition for what they have achieved. I only hope that other eyes have uncovered these shining lights and that they too can say that they saw their smiling faces on the cover of the Rolling Stone…err…I mean…the 2009 ClawBies!

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    What’s Hot …
    Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

    ♫ More often than not
    Are hotter than hot
    In a lot of good ways…♫

    Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, from “Alladin“.

    My good friend Bob Denney of Robert Denney Associates, Inc. has just released his “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” for Dec. 2009. With his permission, I have reproduced it here (contact and subscription information is at the bottom of this post). I hope you find it as useful as I do:

    WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT
    IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION – December 2009

    This is our 21st annual report on what’s going on in the legal profession in the United States as
    well as in other parts of the world. It is based, as always, on information we compile throughout the
    year from many sources.

    While the economy is starting to recover, this recession will have a far greater impact on the legal
    profession than any previous recession in the last 70 years. With each of the prior recessions, the
    profession continued pretty much unchanged. The situation is far different this time. As in all our
    previous reports, some of our findings are obvious. Others are not. Nevertheless, this is the picture
    at the beginning of 2010 – which will be a year of continued challenge and change.

    PRACTICE AREAS

    Hot

    • Intellectual Property. Not only litigation. Patent prosecution is heating up again.
    • Environmental. However, some sources expect this to cool down as the result of opposition to
    the cost both in the U.S. and also other countries.
    • Government Relations/Lobbying. A number of industries i.e., insurance, health care and
    financial services, are more active than ever. Expect more.
    • Bankruptcy/Reorganization. Particularly real estate and retail but also other sectors
    including home building and manufacturing. May cool somewhat on the East Coast but should
    continue to be Hot in the rest of the country. (more…)

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »