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    Archive for April, 2012
    What Your Will Should Say About Your Digital Assets
    Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

    ♫  And then just as sure as one and one is two
    I know I’ll take care of you
    I’ll take care of you
    I’ll take care of you
    I’ll take care of you…♫ 

    Music and lyrics by Brook Benton and originally recorded by Bobby Bland.

    Last Will


    This is a guest post from my good friends Sharon Nelson and John Simek, from Sharon’s Blog Ride the Lightning. Sharon and John are life partners as well as business partners in Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a computer forensics and legal technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. As such their blog post on taking care of your digital assets following your passing struck a nerve with me.  In my view it is typical of Sharon and John’s careful and considerate way of approaching life..and death.  So without any further introduction, here is their advice:

    For those of you who have wills, it is my guess that virtually none of them reference digital assets. Until recently, lawyers weren’t thinking about digital assets.

    Our friend, attorney Deb Matthews, told us a horror story about a client whose husband had passed away without leaving behind his ID and password for their bank account. The bank would not grant his wife access and she had a devil of a time since her husband had gone paperless and was making online payments each month. She had no way of knowing when bills were due to pay them and she began racking up delinquent accounts as a result. (more…)

    Posted in Firm Governance, I'm a Mac, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work! | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    Measuring the Costs of Legislative Changes
    Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

    ♫ We’re all following a strange melody 
    We’re all summoned by a tune 
    We’re following the piper 
    And we dance beneath the moon…♫ 

    Lyrics and music by: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, recorded by Abba.

    Dance beneath the moon

    While attending the Innovating Justice Forum: Towards  Basic  Justice  Care  for  Everyone in Den Haag, I spoke with Christiane Flaes, Netherlands Council for the Judiciary / Secretariat of ENCJ in The Netherlands; with Peter Van Der Biggelaar, the Director of the Dutch Legal Aid Service and with Alan Paterson of the University of Strathclyde.  They all mentioned a procedure that is operative in The Netherlands, in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  This is a Legal Aid Impact Review.

    What is remarkable, at least from an North American standpoint, is the requirement to measure the impact of proposed legislation on both the administration of justice, the judiciary as well as on existing legal aid programs.

    Rather than just passing legislation and leaving the courts, court administration and legal aid to pick up the additional costs, the legal aid impact review requires the costs of this proposed legislation, as least on the instruments involved in the administration of justice be determined.  For example, Northern Ireland states:

    The legal aid impact test –   assessing the implications of government proposals on courts and legal aid

    If you are working on government policy development within the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service or other government departments, you must consider whether there will be either a potential impact on the workload of the courts or a legal aid cost. This section includes guidance to help you determine this; provides a background to the legal aid scheme in Northern Ireland; and includes the contact details of our legal aid team who you should contact to obtain further guidance and help with costing the impact.

    This legal aid impact review ensures (assuming it is complied with each time new legislation is being proposed) that the courts, judges and legal aid will know the financial impact of any proposed legislation on their programs before the legislation becomes law.  This allows the legislation to be tweaked to lower its judicial, administrative and legal aid financial impact while still in proposed form and while it is still possible  to make adjustments.

    It is interesting how this simple idea is so powerful – you determine whether or not you can afford the cost of proposed legislation alongside its proposed utility. In other words, you can do a cost-benefit analysis.

    I also understand that in some jurisdictions, there should also be a financial transfer from a Ministry proposing new legislation to the Ministry of Justice to cover the additional marginal costs of new legislation.  You have to pay the piper for playing before you are summoned by a tune and have to dance beneath the moon..

    Posted in Change Management, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    14.5 Personal Attributes and Qualities of a Winning Coach
    Thursday, April 12th, 2012

    ♫ Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
    Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
    Look at me, I can be Centerfield…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by John Fogerty.



    This is a guest post from Beth Flynn at the Ohio Leadership Center.  Increasingly today, younger lawyers are looking for mentorship and support from the more experienced members of the bar.  However, not everyone is familiar with how to be a good coach.  Accordingly I thought Beth’s post on the personal attributes and qualities of a winning coach would be a great management topic for lawyers.  So without further ado, here are the 14.5 attributes:

    1. You have valuable information that people can use.
    2. You combine your experience with the real world.
    3. You have a sense of humor.
    4. You know the game better than they do.
    5. You encourage.
    6. You are a great presenter.
    7. You have standards and ethics that you follow, not just preach.
    8. You are enthusiastic.
    9. You have great communication skills.
    10. Your players like you.
    11. Your players believe in you.
    12. You inspire others.
    13. You tell the truth all the time.
    14. Your players respect you.

    14.5 You can play (Gitomer, 2011, p. 108-109).

    These tips are from: Gitomer, J (2011), “Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Book of Leadership: The 12.5 Strengths of Responsible, Reliable, Remarkable Leaders that Create Results, Rewards and Resilience”. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons

    Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Book of Leadaership is available from the OSU Leadership Center. Click here to borrow this resource or any other resource. Once you are on the OSU website, click on the Spectrum icon.

    Learn how the Ohio State University Leadership Center is inspiring others to take a leadership role that empowers the world at: http;//  To begin receiving Beth’s Leadership Moments newsletter, please click on Join Our Mailing List.

    Thanks Beth for another great leadership post on how all of us can become winning coaches and mentors.


    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Ailing (or Aiding) Justice …
    Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

    ♬ I want a new drug 
    One that does what it should…♬ 

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Huey Lewis.

    United Nations

    On Monday April 2, 2012, Dr. Frank Fowlie, the Internet Ombudsman, Kari Boyle of MediateBC and your humble scribe did a presentation for the University of British Columbia law school.  It was entitled: ODR Around the World and was meant to be an introduction into the emerging field of Online Dispute Resolution and how it is changing the way that people could resolve their disputes using internet technology.

    During the presentation, I asked the students to reflect on the inherent structure of the justice system.  Being bright law students, they perceived that it is:

    • Synchronous: All parties must attend the court house at the same time.
    • Serial:  Each case follows the one before it on the docket in order to be heard or processed by the presiding judge or court official.
    • Expensive:  Each bricks and mortar courthouse has to be built and staffed.
    • Geographically Tied: All parties must attend the court that is hearing the case.
    • Jurisdictionally Tied: For the most part, each case is heard according to the laws of the jurisdiction where it is filed.
    • Involves Transactional Costs:  Not only are there hard costs involved in filing the claim or action, the parties involved suffer a loss of opportunity cost – the time that they put into the claim or action represents time that they could have used otherwise.  The longer the resolution time, the greater the transactional costs.
    • Involves Delays:  A case takes time to weave its way through the court system. In some cases that delay is relatively short – in other cases it is quite long.  We are seeing headlines today on the increasing delays in the justice system. We all know that justice delayed is justice denied.
    • Limited Availability:  It used to be that courts and bankers kept the same hours.  However, today, courtesy of the internet, banks are open 24/7.  Courts, however, are not.
    • Involves a Judge:  For the most part, a case must be heard and determined by a judge (yes you can go before Masters and the like but they can’t make final orders). This means that the judge represents a bottleneck in the system.

    I then posed a challenge to the students: How can you structure a dispute resolution system that tries to break down one or more of these constraints?  What would that system look like?  Moreover, what would be the advantages to those involved in the dispute that don’t currently exist in the present justice system?  What about disadvantages? (more…)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    2012 ABA TECHSHOW Takeaways…
    Monday, April 2nd, 2012

    ♬ Money talks, it’ll tell you a story
    Money talks, says strange things
    Money talks very loudly
    …Money talks…♬

    Lyrics and music by JJ Cale and Christine Lakeland, recorded by JJ Cale.


    2012 ABA TECHSHOW logo


    Having just returned from ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, I thought I would take a moment and lay out what I believe was the grand theme that was running through this year’s show. Yes, there were great and new technologies. Yes, the conference showed just how deeply the iPad and Apple technologies have penetrated the legal profession (the iPad Apps session was standing room only and iPads were seen everywhere.  The  (near) absence of laptops underscored how lawyers have jumped onto the tablet / iPad platform as their mobile solution.  Yes, there were great presentations by wonderful speakers on cool and upcoming technologies such as the Microsoft phone and Windows 8.  Yes, the Cloud and all kinds of hosted IT services were big. And yes, the exhibit floor was packed with vendors and attendees alike.  But…

    In my opinion, the biggest (understated) theme was the open question over the future of the legal profession. You could almost feel the undercurrents. Ben Stein, the noted lawyer, economist and television personality, in his keynote presentation, raised the distinct possibility of the economic collapse of the USA and what that might mean – and not just for lawyers. Certainly he dealt with the changes that the recession has had on the legal profession to date and the fact that these changes may be permanent. While he gave hope that things may improve, it was one of the nicest ‘things are never going to be the same’ speeches I have ever heard. (more…)

    Posted in Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Trends | Permalink | 17 Comments »