June 27, 2011
Practical Skills at St. Louis University
The St. Louis University School of Law has had a Law Practice Management class in its summer session for several years. Barbara Gilchrist teaches the class.
The syllabus shows the expansive reach of the class - business forms, marketing, client managment, technology, finances and much more. As part fo the class, students go to the highly-regarded Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference. If that's not enough, the students get to hear a wide range of speakers with expertise in each of the areas of coverage.
I (Dennis Kennedy) have had the pleasure to speak to this class several times in recent years about legal technology and related matters. I take an all Q & A approach and am always intrigued by the great questions I get and what issues the students focus on each year.
I spoke to this year's class last week and had a great discussion with the students. Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of the questions related to social media. I enjoyed getting some of the most sophisticated questions I've ever gotten about use of social media and the Internet by lawyers. Unlike most groups of lawyers, these students not only knew what cloud computing was, they were asking about its positive aspects while still being cognizant of security and other issues. We spent quite a bit of time talking about ethical and professional responsibility issues relating to technology in general and social media in particular.
As we discussed recent state regulatory and ethical decisions on these subjects, the students voiced their concern that the rules seemed to block (or want to block) uses of social media and the Internet that seem very natural to the current generation of students. At one point, a student suggested that the disciplinary approaches seemed more directed at protecting a cartel than protecting clients.
I took my professional responsibility class in law school in the same semester as my antitrust law class, and I must admit to having similar thoughts over the years.
The conversation gave me, and should give all of us, much to think about as ethical and disciplinary approaches based on a shaky understanding of technology seem to make difficult uses of technology aimed at providing better, faster and cheaper service to clients. I liked the way that the students wanted to learn how to get involved in the rule-making process.
I like the way practice management courses such as this one help students not only learn basic practical skills and get insights about the actual practice of law, but also let them apply their academic skills to practice management areas and come up with fresh ideas and approaches.
April 26, 2011
Talking to Law Students About Legal Technology
I (Dennis Kennedy) got the chance last week to talk to and answer questions from students at the University of Missouri Law School.
I spent about two hours with Randy Diamond's Law Practice Management class and then another hour-and-a-half or so talking to an open session about social media, legal technology, career questions, and whatever other topics students wanted to throw at me.
Lots of great questions, including some questions that got me to think about a few things in new ways. It was especially interesting to find the level of interest in LinkedIn, but the wariness about using it. I think I might have changed a few opinions about that.
Despite the amount of time I spent answering questions, I felt quite energized after the sessions and was happy to get the opportunity. A big thank you to the University of Missouri community.
Given the excellent response I've always gotten when talking about technology, practice management and related issues to students at local law schools, I'm surprised that more law professors and law schools don't consider reserving one class or even a session outside teh normal class schedule to bring in practicing lawyers to talk to students and answer questions about the actual practice of law.
The more we can bring lawyers, professors and students together on a regular basis and encourage interaction and discussion, the better and more dynamic a local legal community we're likely to create. I've long felt we've seen too little of that over the years. We now have opportunities to do more of that. Think about what you might do to make that happen.
April 19, 2011
The iPad for Lawyers
If you follow the legal technology chatter on blogs or Twitter, you've no doubt heard that lawyers are mad about the iPad. At first, I couldn't see the allure - I could see no possible business use that would make me want to use the iPad. But on a whim I bought one, and began to find all sorts of great ways that lawyers can work more productively using an iPad.
Lately, I've been talking to lawyers a lot about how they can use the iPad in their practices. Recently I did a series of posts for Attorney At Work:
- The iPad for Lawyers: End of the PC?
- The iPad for Lawyers: All About Apps
- The iPad for Lawyers: The Accessories
An even more ambitious move was to write a book on the subject; my new book iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, is aimed at lawyers (and anyone else, frankly) who just bought an iPad and is interested in learning how to set it up and use it, in about an hour (or maybe two). It's a quick read, so if you or anyone you know just bought an iPad, check it out - you might find some interesting ways that lawyers can use tablet computers to enhance the services the provide to their clients.
January 17, 2011
Jim Calloway on the Dark Side of Technology
If you are looking for solid, practical and thoughtful commentary and suggestions on law practice management issues, you can't go wrong starting at Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog.
Jim's post today, The Dark Side of Technology, is a great example.
Jim considers some of the issues raised by information overload and being "always connected." He points you to some excellent resources, highly recommends a CNBC show called "Crackberry'd" and offers some sage advice of his own.
The money quote from Jim:
I encourage all lawyers to think about how much time they allow themselves to deeply focus on the work. It seems like a good time management tool to check e-mail while waiting for a dentist appointment. But I have concluded that the same thing is not a good idea when waiting to take a deposition. Then you need to be focusing on the task ahead and not run the risk of being distracted by an e-mail on an entirely different matter.
Finding an approriate balance between time for focus and reflection and time for availability and being connected is quickly becoming one of the most important skills everyone in law must learn.
January 15, 2011
Professionalism & Ethics in Today's Technology
In its September/October issue, “The Bencher,” the magazine of the American Inns of Court, published several helpful articles on the subject. Here are the articles available to the public online:
- Complex Ethical Issues of Social Media
- Transparency in E-Discovery: No Longer a Novel Approach
- Cloud Computing—Panacea or Ethical “Black Hole” for Lawyers
- Electronic Discovery and Social Networking Sites
- Judicial Ethics, The Internet, and Social Media
Here is the link that will lead you to the articles.
In case you are unfamiliar with the American Inns of Court, here is a brief description:
American Inns of Court (AIC) are designed to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar. An American Inn of Court is an amalgam of judges, lawyers, and in some cases, law professors and law students. Each Inn meets approximately once a month both to "break bread" and to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and professionalism.
The membership is divided into “pupillage teams,” with each team consisting of a few members from each membership category. Each pupillage team conducts one program for the Inn each year. Pupillage team members get together informally outside of monthly Inn meetings in groups of two or more. This allows the less-experienced attorneys to become more effective advocates and counselors by learning from the more-experienced attorneys and judges. In addition, each less-experienced member is assigned to a more-experienced attorney or judge who acts as a mentor and encourages conversations about the practice of law.
For more information, please visit www.innsofcourt.org
December 27, 2010
Internet Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Job Search
It's becoming easier and easier to undo all the good work you've done to find a good job after law school through a lack of good judgment in using the Internet, especially social media.
George Lenard has a great post on George's Employment Blawg called "Ten Internet Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Job Search." It would be good for all of us to commit these potential mistakes to memory.
Highlights include wise advice about pictures, Facebook, Twitter, comments on other sites, and creating your own Google Profile.
On the other hand, you can also point to at least ten great ways (many of them found in George's post) effective use of the Internet can help your job search, so it's important to keep a balanced perspective. Just because you can make mistakes on the Internet doesn't mean you want to stay away from the Internet.
The bottom line: moderation and good judgment will always serve you well.
December 07, 2010
iPads in the Classroom
I recently read Wes Fryer's post "iPads in the Classroom by Jonathann Reed and Sharon Parsons," in which he published his notes from a breakout session on use of iPad technology in middle school from the 2010 Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference. I've been thinking about it ever since.
It's a fascinating post just in the sense of what is being tried, what works and what obstacles middle schools face in using iPads.
You can also add to the mix another post of his notes from the same conference called The 21st Century Teacher's Toolkit by Alice Barr, which discusses the use of laptops and other technology in early education with a big emphasis on collaboration tools.
I bet that both posts will get you thinking too.
One thing the posts will definitely get you thinking about is what happens when a new generation with a long history of access to excellent technology tools hits a law school system too often in the news for professors banning laptops from their lectures and a a legal profession expecting them to take several steps backwards in both the tools they are given and the ways they can use those tools to collaborate and get work done?
November 30, 2010
Study for the Bar Exam on your iPhone?
As we increasingly become a nation of people looking down at their smartphones, it was inevitable that the classroom would come to the iPhone. So if you're the kind of person who learns better from your smartphone's tiny screen, give the Barbri App a look. For the low price of $295 you can access most of the course information on your phone - lectures, practice questions, mini reviews, and a game called the Barbri Challenge. My friend and iPhone guru Jeff Richardson has a complete review of this app - if you are getting ready to study for the bar, give it a look!
November 29, 2010
Keeping Up with the Latest Google Technology
Google continues to offer some pretty terrific technology tools, many of which are useful to lawyers: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps, and Google Translate or only a few of the great tools that lawyers can use in their practice. It can be someone daunting, however, trying to keep up with all of the new stuff that Google churns out each week - that is, until now.
Google recently unveiled Google New, the one place to find everything new from Google. Just this week, you can learn about improvements to Google Earth, the ability to drag and drop files into Google Docs, and updates to Google's search tool. Bookmark this page and visit it often - Google has lots of tools that can benefit the lawyer in his or her practice.
November 24, 2010
Lawyer's Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap
CaseMap seems to be popular in this area. The LexisNexis software permits integrating case law, legal analysis, and factual evidence of all sorts. The ABA Law Practice Management Division has just published “A Lawyer’s Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap” by attorney Dan Siegel. Here’s the ad.
Must You "Date Stamp" an E-Filing?
November 23, 2010
Taking Notes During Your CLE - Online!
My own State Bar of Texas CLE department is offering a new feature for lawyers who prefer to take their CLE online: note-taking. CLE programs have long been offered online, but now users can actually annotate the presentation with their own notes. If you ever need to go back to your notes, they will be archived for you - you can even go back to the point in the video where you made those notes.
I really like this enhancement, but there's only one problem - I would want to keep my notes on my own computer, or in my own stored area. I guess that's what programs like Evernote are for - still, it's nice seeing a bar association provide some extra functionality to its members.