Denise Howell is a seasoned appellate and intellectual property litigator based in Los Angeles. Denise writes one of the first and most popular law-related blogs, Bag and Baggage, coined the term "blawg" and helped pioneer podcasting for lawyers. Microcontent obsessed since 2001, she is frequently quoted in the media on legal issues involving intellectual property and technology law. "Sound Policy" is Denise's show at IT Conversations, and it's also what she hopes results from the briefs she submits to court. Email Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dennis Kennedy is a computer lawyer and legal technology expert based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author, a frequent speaker and a widely-read blogger, he has more than 300 publications on legal, technology and Internet topics, many of which are collected in his e-books. Dennis has been described as someone who knows almost every rock song in existence and, more importantly, how they apply to technology and law. Email Dennis at his gmail address.
Tom Mighell is Senior Counsel and Litigation Technology Support Coordinator at Cowles & Thompson in Dallas. He has published the Internet Legal Research Weekly newsletter since 2000 and blogged about the Internet and legal technology at Inter Alia since August of 2002. With Tom's singing, Ernie on guitar and Dennis' encylopedic knowledge of rock music, we may have the beginnings of a good band, if this whole blog thing doesn't work out. Email Tom at email@example.com.
Marty Schwimmer left a partnership in the largest trademark practice in the world and founded Schwimmer Mitchell, a full-service IP micro-boutique in Westchester County, New York, where he represents owners of famous and not yet famous trademarks. He founded The Trademark Blog, the first IP law blog and the one with the most pictures. He is the first to come in and the last to leave in his firm. Email Marty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ernest Svenson practices law with a mid-sized law firm in New Orleans, specializing in business-related lawsuits. Most of his practice takes place in federal court, especially the Eastern District. He is best known for his weblog Ernie the Attorney, which he started as an experiment. Like many experiments it got out of control. Nevertheless, he continues to practice law and, occasionally,
to seek enlightenment. Email Ernest at email@example.com.
About this blog
Between Lawyers provides just-in-time group commentary on the issues
raised when technology, culture and the law intersect. We take you
behind the firewalls and conference room doors to show you how
experienced lawyers deal with these issues and help you prepare for
the new challenges we all face. For more, see our introductory post.
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline
The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, the new book from Between Lawyers' own Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell is now now available for preorder at the ABA Web Store. There's a 15% discount if you preorder now.
The book reflects the idea of collaboration that underlies the Between Lawyers blog.
Here's the book description from the ABA Web Store:
This first-of-its-kind guide for the legal profession shows you how to use standard technology you already have and the latest "Web 2.0" resources and other tech tools, like Google Docs, Microsoft Office and SharePoint, and Adobe Acrobat, to work more effectively on projects with colleagues, clients, co-counsel and even opposing counsel. In The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, well-known legal technology authorities Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell provide a wealth of information useful to lawyers who are just beginning to try these tools, as well as tips and techniques for those lawyers with intermediate and advanced collaboration experience.
Collaboration technologies and tools are the most important current developments in legal technology and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Explained with minimal technical jargon, the book focuses on highly practical and usable ideas that you can put to work straight away.
With practical advice on how to use specific tools and concrete action steps to take, lawyers and law firms at all levels will benefit from working together better.
+ The basics of collaboration and collaboration tools
+ How to select and implement tools and strategies
+ The best ways to collaborate on documents, cases, transactions, and projects
+ How to collaborate inside and outside the office
+ How to collaborate using tools you already have or own
Technology now makes it easier than ever to work with others -- this is the first guide dedicated to the special requirements of the legal world with the practical steps it takes to do it right.
I'm planning to write an article about what I'm calling "MacGyver" technology tricks. I'm assuming that you are familiar with the MacGyver concept (or you can wikipedia it).
As an example, consider using a digital camera or cameraphone as a document scanner in a pinch (or sending a document as a fax to a nearby fax machine when you aren't able to print it any other way).
I'm looking for some good examples and wanted to get a little help from the readers of this blog.
Remember, the idea is not something like using the top of your laptop as a cutting board, but ways to use software and hardware in unexpected, but logical and useful ways, in a pinch when you don't have the normal tools available. Another example: using a video iPod to run your PowerPoint presentation when your laptop won't work with the projector. I'm also looking for something that the average lawyer would be able to do with gadgets, hardware and software (or Internet apps) readily at hand for most lawyers.
However, I'm not looking for examples like this one, because it requires that you have a specific device available.
You get the idea.
Let me know your best ideas by leaving a comment to this post or joining the Between Lawyers Facebook Group and leaving your recommendations as a response to the discussion thread there.
So — what should Nixon Peabody have done when its embarrassing firm non-theme song made its inevitable way onto the Web? (And into the atmosphere of countless homes and offices, as its hapless victims hum and mutter it against their will and better judgment?)
If they'd have asked me (or perhaps 95% of the over 1,000 people who have voted in the Volokh Conspiracy poll), I'd have told them the last thing they should be doing is invoking the DMCA. Instead I'd have recommended:
applying an appropriately liberal Creative Commons license,
holding a mashup contest, and
showcasing the winner and the top 9 runners up on the firm's home page.
In this episode, Dennis and Tom discuss the use (or potential use) of Facebook by lawyers, giving some potential benefits and risks, practical tips, and observations about their experiments in using Facebook. They also talk about how they use the Google Reader for RSS feeds and Google Docs and Spreadsheets for simple collaborations. They also talk about the other podcasts they listen to and how they listen to them.
It's a good introduction for lawyers and other legal professionals to these topics.
You'll find the podcast episode here and there's an archive of earlier podcasts.
It's also a good time to remind you to check out Denise Howell's podcast - This Week in Law - on which you'll find some of the authors of the Between Lawyers blog appearing from time to time.
TechnoLawyer's new free eBook, BlawgWorld 2007, features a selected post from 77 different law-related blogs. It's a good introduction to the current state of blogging for everyone, no matter what your familiarity, or lack of familiarity, with blawgs. You'll even find a choice post from the Between Lawyers blog.
The other side of the professional blogging coin is looking at the business ramification of making money with your blogging. This session will cover the things to consider and that you may regret if you wait to long to address: copyright protection, tax ramifications, managing personal vs. paid-for blogging, your site policies, and blogging ethics.
Here are my top ten legal issues pertinent to this discussion; what are yours?
1. Communications policies (your own, or someone else's which may apply)
2. Intellectual property (your own and third parties')
3. Indirect liability for third party acts
8. Data ownership, responsibilities
10. Special considerations for regulated businesses/industries
The untold story of this blog is that the Between Lawyers authors spend more time gabbing with each other via email than posting to the blog. During one of our recent quite extended email conversations, we decided experiment with and open up those discussions in a Facebook group so that friends/readers can also play along.
This might be better suited to Overlawyered than Between Lawyers, but I'm posting it here anyway because it's a great series of posts. One thing I don't see addressed: one of the most powerful features of Facebook (and a host of other social networking sites) is the fine-grained privacy control users have over the visibility their data. Often, only "friends" have access to the kinds of details George discusses. But, lots of people do make their data more generally visible. It's ironic that employment laws are such that though "the public" may be invited to view such information, lucrative damages awards or settlements could be associated with doing so in the context of employment or potential employment.
Denise Howell raises some questions for bloggers and others who embed YouTube and other videos into their blog posts. Even better, she offers some answers to the questions in her post "Embedding a Headache."
Shelley Powers does a great job of summing up some of the key issues and unanswered questions about the Creative Commons licenses in her post "Virgin Bites Creative Commons on the Butt." Highly recommended.
We discussed the Creative Commons licenses (and some of the issues Shelley raises) a few years ago when we started the Between Lawyers blog as an effort to show our readers how a group of lawyers would think about applying a Creative Commons license. Those posts are collected here. I also talked about Creative Commons license issues in the recent Episode 26 of the WordPress Podcast.
Microsoft Provides a Good Illustration of the Metadata Exposure Problem
Ed Botts offers up a great example of how tricky the hidden data, or metadata, issue can be in Microsoft Office. The victim this time is Microsoft. Irony aside, it's important to understand the example and be attuned to the potential problems.
Ed's recent post "What's Hidden in Your Word Documents?" also is an eye-opener on the topic for those who are not familiar with the workings of the default settings in Office 2007 (that may include some bar regulators in the US).
I was listening yesterday to the terrific CalacanisCast interview with Dan Albritton of iminlikewithyou.com, and was struck yet again by the way indicia of reputation, trustworthiness, and credibility are shifting and quantifying. I'm not sure what tomorrow's AV rating will look like, but I suspect it will be less subjective, more egalitarian, and more task-oriented.
Stealth Legal Start-up Gets $10,000,000 of VC Investment
Kevin O'Keefe spots a VERY interesting development in what might be the future of legal services for consumers. Kevin's take on this is eye-opening. Avvo is definitely something to watch for those interested in Law 2.0.
Doc Searls has a very good introduction to the increasingly important notion of the Live Web.
The money quote:
Blogs are not just sites. They are also journals — live ones, to be exact. (Significantly, Brad Fitzpatrick named his blog system LiveJournal.) When you save a blog post, Technorati knows about it and indexes it in as little as 60 seconds or less. I assume Google Blogsearch does the same. Meanwhile Google's main Static Web search engine indexes the entire Web at a less than live pace. This isn't a bad thing at all; just a different thing. This difference is so sharp that Google Blogsearch gives you a choice between "Search Blogs" and "Search the Web".
As Tom Mighell says, "knowing the right questions to ask in an electronic discovery deposition is crucial, and I'd wager most lawyers haven't had the opportunity to ask many questions along those lines."
Denise Howell's notes from her recent talk called "Law That Works" will one day be seen as one of the important theoretical steps toward what will become Law 2.0.
The reinvented law of reinvented TV is built — route-around by route-around — on the damage of things like byzantine music licensing rules, nonexistent Hollywood film licensing alternatives, antiquated procedural niceties, and the inability of our undeniably glorious (when compared with other alternatives) legal system to deliver certainty on a host of business-critical and livelihood-critical issues.
The Open Culture blog has amazing lists of and links to educational podcasts, such as this useful list of links to podcasts from top U.S. law schools. It's nice to see my law school alma mater, Georgetown, among the leaders in these efforts as well as Georgetown returning to historic basketball form in the NCAA tournament.
Between Lawyers' own Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell are pleased to announce that they will be writing a book on collaboration tools that will be published in early 2008 by the American Bar Association. The book is tentatively titled: "Collaboration Tools for Lawyers: Essential Ways to Work Together with Colleagues, Clients and Even Opposing Counsel."
Nearly every lawyer finds that colleagues, co-counsel, clients and even opposing counsel use the Internet and technology to collaborate and work together on documents, projects and cases. In the simplest scenario, lawyers and clients use the "track changes" feature in Microsoft Word to work together on a document. Technology today lets lawyers take collaboration to the next level. Many legal technology tools now include collaborative elements.
At the same time, lawyers increasingly use the Internet in many ways to work together. From document sharing to videoconferencing, there are more tools than most lawyers can imagine for working together, online.
Two key trends are at play here. First, for years lawyers have understood the clear benefits of collaboration and working together as a routine matter. Second, the availability of simple, inexpensive (even free) collaboration technology has created an environment where working together makes sense to nearly every lawyer in nearly every firm. The push forward on both trends is likely to continue.
Two other important factors also come into play. First, business clients are routinely using technology to collaborate and will expect their lawyers to follow. Therefore, collaboration tools illustrate a classic example of a client-driven technology. Second, events in the world from increased travel costs to possible pandemics make it even more likely that these tools will be adopted by necessity.
To the extent lawyers have experimented with these tools, they may have the nagging feeling that they are simply touching the tip of the iceberg of what might be available to them and how they might use these tools to their benefit. We believe that they are right to feel that way, because it is undoubtedly true.
The book will provide intensely practical advice for lawyers and law firms wanting to take better advantage of these tools and the benefits they bring. It will take a look at how to use these tools wells, focus on both categories of tools and specific individual tools, and provide concrete action steps and techniques so that even the least tech-savvy lawyer can catch up with the early adopters and successful innovators.
Collaboration Tools for Lawyers: Essential New Ways to Work Together with Colleagues, Clients and Even Opposing Counsel, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell (expected publication date: early 2008)
Blog carnivals are an interesting blog phenomenon, with a long history. Dave Winer has referred to a blog as "the unedited voice of a person," and blog carnivals turn that notion on its head, being "voices of many different people in many different places." However, that's what makes the blogosphere so rich - there are so many ways to create compelling blogs and blog content. In that respect, it's even more amazing to keep a blog carnival going for 100 editions (and even more in the case of some blog carnivals), especially as blog search tools improve and people increasingly consume information through RSS feeds and newsreaders rather than individually visiting blogs.
This is an opportunity for the blawgosphere to assume a leadership position. It can be more than a compendium of firm brochures. Practitioner blogs can provide cool-headed legal analysis of issues such as the Niger Documents, Plame Affair, Torture Memos, NSA issues and Signing Statements, to a broader audience than the prof blogs can reach.
Is it a poison for a practitioner to discuss politics? Partisan politics, yes.
However I don't see a downside in arguing for equal application of and respect for the law. That may even be one of those civic duties they may have mentioned at the bar admission ceremony.
I would hope that there is a centrist bloc of practitioner bloggers who simply want the truth to come out. Jack Nicholson is wrong, we can handle the truth.
So let's continually ask whether our Government is acting lawfully.
Legal marketing guru Burkey Belser takes a few stabs at the recent New York and Florida efforts to restrict legal advertising and communications in his post "Rotten to the Core." I agree with his assessment that the law of unintended consequences will apply many times over with these rules and the risks of arbitrary enforcement are quite high.
The money quote:
One wonders if federal regulation of legal marketing will ever overtake the state-by-state model currently saddling the profession. So many firms have so many offices across so many state lines that the old regulatory model hardly makes sense anymore.
There's good practical advice in the post and a helpful chart you can download.
Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy provide a great list of resources for learning more about Word's Track Changes feature and redlining in their article, "Staying on Track with Track Changes," in the March issue of the ABA's Law Practice Today webzine.
Internet radio is a canary in the coal mine of an insane Net-hostile Regulatorium that stretches from the cableco/telco duopoly to the copyright oligarchs who are strangling what Professor Lessig calls Free Culture. That Regulatorium should be the enemy of every free-market Republican and every free-speech Democrat. It's slowing down the U.S. and its businesses as competitors in the World Wide Marketplace we call the Net.
Will this decision to execute the Internet radio canary motivate us to do what we should have been doing more of for the past ten years? That's up to you and me.
In connection with our session at the the upcoming Community 2.0 conference, law professor Mike Madison and I will be hosting a public conference call on Monday, February 26 beginning at 1:00 p.m. PST, and we'd love your participation to help us hone in on the ownership considerations (IP; attention; identity), and issues of governance and liability, most critical to the creation, maintenance, and long-term health of business communities. The call will be recorded and made available as a podcast from The Future of Communities blog. You can join us as follows:
From Skype: +990008275785861
From a regular phone (long distance costs apply): US: 1-605-475-8590
In Europe, call: Germany 01805 00 7620 UK 0870 738 0763
[Update, Monday 2/26 @ 1:15 p.m.:] Unfortunately, we had problems with the conferencing service lined up to support this, so are having to reschedule. I'll post the new date, time, and call-in details once they're available, sorry for the delay.
Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy have published an introduction to wikis and a primer on how they might be used in the legal profession. The article is called "Wikis for the Legal Profession," and it appears in the the February 2007 issue of Law Practice Today.
Ken Adams explores the practical potential of using wikis for contract drafting in a piece called "What Are Wikis?" in the New York Law Journal today. Excellent article.
I agree with Ken's conclusion, but I think that the value of wikis will not come through their use as a drafting tool, per se, but as a way to collect the "knowledge" about how contracts are drafted, when you use certain clauses and why, and the like.
Between Lawyers' own Dennis Kennedy has identified seven legal technology trends lawyers, law firms and law departments (and those who sell products and services to them) should be considering in 2007.
The money quote:
By the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward lawyers and firms and a subtle restructuring of the practice of law.
I'm sure we'll see more commentary later, but there's a lot to read and digest.
My first quick read gave my the odd feeling that I was reading a new Miranda marketing warning for legal marketing ("You have the right to remain silent. Anything resembling marketing that you or your law firm may do may be treated as an ethical violation."), but I'll reserve judgment until I can read the rules more closely.
Two thoughts: First, I think that my characterization of the proposed rules as "micromanaging" is even more true of the final rules. Second, I believe that this type of state regulation, which undoubtedly will be picked up by other states, all but begs the FTC to step into lawyer regulation.
I understand that the next item on the New York agenda is a lawyer dress code. ;-) Hmm, maybe that's not so far-fetched. Consider this quote from the Caher article:
Finally, the new rules ban advertising "techniques to obtain attention that demonstrate a clear and intentional lack of relevance to the selection of counsel, including the portrayal of lawyers exhibiting characteristics clearly unrelated to legal competence." That provision was added partially in response to advertisements run by a Long Island, N.Y., attorney who permitted herself to be filmed in provocative poses to tout her real estate practice. Those ads generated complaints from Long Island practitioners who noted that the attorney's cleavage had nothing to do with her legal abilities, officials said.
The one element of these new rules I really like is the use of the all-but-forgotten word "moniker." I assume that the rules on use of monikers may bring the end to Morrison Foerster use of the term of endearment "MoFo." Heh.
I'm quite curious to see what the response of New York lawyers will be to these rules.
David Lat, on the New York Post's Lawyers, Fun, & Money piece (about midlevel attorneys leaving large firms): "As the Book of Revelation teaches, when Fortune 500 document dumps are being reviewed by Cardozo rather than Columbia grads, the end is near."