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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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".
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)
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.
Attorney and Chicago area blogger Mazyar M. Hedayat has drafted and released a blogging policy for the DuPage County Bar Association, "as well as any committee, firm, or bar association thinking of establishing blogs or wikis in order to foster communication with their members or the public." It is a concise nine points in length, and I like every one of them:
#1 know and follow bar association guidelines for conduct, as well as the rules of good legal writing. no need to use Blue Book citations, but be accurate in your posts: others will look to them as a source of information and news, if not actual research.
#2 be mindful of what you write. remember that you have an audience.
#3 identify yourself and write in first person. make it clear that you are not necessarily speaking for the bar association as a whole. be sure to disclose any information necessary to keep your statements from being misleading. use the following disclaimer on your blog or wiki with respect to all posts:
unless indicated to the contrary posts do not reflect the views of the bar association, its members, executives, staff, board, or committees, and are the opinion of the writer
#4 respect copyright and fair use. do not plagiarize. give credit where due by citing to the author of a statement or passage.
#5 do not reveal confidential information that could result in liability to yourself, your committee, other bar association members, or the bar association itself.
#6 do not comment on active cases or client matters by name except with the approval of those referred to in the post.
#7 do not use ethnic slurs, insults, or obscenity. Avoid writing about inflammatory topics solely to pique prurient interests.
#8 always try to add to a discussion constructively and ultimately to add value. do not let your ego get in the way. you are here for the good of the bar association after all.
#9 have fun. a blog or wiki can be loads of fun and a terrific way to share the best of your committee with the world.
Just out this week, Socialtext Open: "Socialtext Open is released under a standard open source license, and contains all of Socialtext's enterprise grade code aside from enterprise management and enterprise integration tools."
Wikis at work,
BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP Ramp SOA Spec Efforts: "The group also has setup what they call a 'vendor-neutral Web site, designed as a wiki' they will use to collaborate, communicate and gain feedback from developers. There's a place for news, white papers, public specifications and access to information on early deployments."
I've finally been getting around to reading some back issues of Wired Magazine this weekend, which is always a worthwhile thing to do. (My regular magazine reading consists of: Wired, Technology Review, Popular Science, Fast Company, MacAddict — Dennis, you should subscribe to this, it will take your MacBook usage and enjoyment to new heights — and any of the free, locally ad-supported, parent-focused pubs available at the grocery store and My Gym. Put that in your demographic pipe and smoke it.) There, I may have found an answer to Dennis' recent lament, "I doubt that anyone has more trouble with or dislikes cell phone service more than I do." It's the MVNO, "mobile virtual network operator." What I do know thanks to Wired — Sky Dayton Gets Mobile — is that MVNOs, which piggy back on the carriers' spectrum and resell wireless services under their own name, will be a breath of fresh air to those frustrated by the products, features, and plans available from the big boys in the world of cellular services. What I don't know (and I'd love it if someone could enlighten me) is whether MVNOs, in addition to satisfying our longing for variety and flexibility, can do anything to offer improved reliability and/or speed; since their service backbone is the infrastructure of the existing cellular networks, they may just be putting lipstick on a pig.
The Wired article is several months old now (January oops, March; reading January now), and though it got me thorougly jazzed to own a Helio phone named after Y.T. from Snow Crash, it looks like only Hiro ultimately got the nod, and then with a spelling change (*sigh*). Ah well, it still is a terribly attractive notion to hitch one's cellular service wagon to a company that thinks of itself as "a gang of miltant consumers who barricade themselves inside a carrier's headquarters and refuse to leave until they get what they want." Though Helio is clearly targeting someone younger than me with more free time (or maybe a different way of looking at it is they're going after those inclined to post to Slashdot and Digg rather than just followalong), I find the whole notion refreshing, and look forward to more — whether from Helio or another MVNO.
Great marketing partnership for MySpace by the way. Though I'd probably never create a MySpace page on my own, if my phone were well integrated with it I just might. Also: when was the last time you encountered a cellular service provider with a blog?
Brad's idea was to add a Flare that would 'add a disclaimer' on each post that would be a small 'bio' link that would list the firm where the blawger is an attorney. That's a great start, but I'm sure there's bound to be more ideas. What about adding a Flare that would link back to the lawyer's latest publication?
Take a look and give it some thought. Let's collect and share ideas in the comments section for this post and we can get back to Jake with some good ideas. I agree with him that this idea has a lot of potential, especially if Rick Klau is involved.
The AP's Brian Bergstein has a recent story on the e-discovery field: E-Discovery Is Big Business. "With so much work done via e-mail, instant messaging and other online platforms, 'nothing's in the file cabinets anymore,'" he writes, quoting Michele Lange, staff attorney for legal technologies at Kroll Ontrack. It's an interesting article and a good overview of the explosive growth happening in the e-discovery arena. What struck me about the article though was the fact it didn't mention Web 2.0 companies and services — also experiencing explosive growth and uptake. Ms Lange is of course correct that nothing is in file cabinets anymore, but increasingly — with employees using Web mail, blogs, wikis, online news aggregators, social bookmarking, and other hosted means of communication and knowledge management for business purposes (which might violate a technology use policy, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen) — material of great relevance to a legal dispute might not be anywhere under a litigant's direct control.
I hear the wheels turning in the heads of our trial court litigator readers: what I'm describing has some competing aspects. On the one hand, it lets a party respond to a discovery request by saying, gee, we'd be happy to give you that but we just don't have it. On the other, someone, a third party, does have it, and things that might ordinarily be known about and subjected to a document (non)retention policy can and probably will persist in that third party's database.
The article talks about companies employing e-discovery firms proactively, so as not to have to scramble or be caught unawares when the inevitable discovery requests roll in. (Included factoid: "The average company bigger than $1 billion is wrestling with 147 lawsuits.") In this vein, it concludes with Gerald Massey of Fios speculating, "The names we'll associate with the services we provide in three, four, five years from now will be like IBM and EMC and Oracle." I think that's right, but I wonder too if (and doubt whether) many Web 2.0 companies have tried to factor responding to third party discovery into their cost of doing business. By definition, they are bound to be subjected to the expense and inconvenience of more subpoenas duces tecum than would otherwise be the case.
Jeremy Pepper, Going for that 25 Percent: "Were those comments from Alaska Airlines? Were those comments from Tello employees or its PR firm? I don't know - but the IP addresses (while they can be spoofed) usually don't lie."
I've been intrigued by the ways people can use blogs and RSS for nonprofit organizations and other charitable efforts, especially after what we saw after the tsunami. A while back, I found Netsquared.org and became acquainted with Marshall Kirkpatrick, who writes a great blog of his own and is involved in the NetSquared effort.
Last night, Marshall and I did an interview session via Skype IM that he's published on the Netsquared site. I cover a wide-ranging list of topics and had a lot of fun doing the interview.
Netsquared has a cool upcoming conference that will bring nonprofit and tech people together. If my interview helps publicize what they are doing, that would be great. Please check out my interview, then spend some time on the Netsquared site and see if you might be able to help out.
Actually, I have lots, some admittedly more lofty than others. One is that law firms and their clients will find ways to spend less on IT without sacrificing performance or convenience. Robin "Roblimo" Miller's book Point & Click OpenOffice.org seems like one of many excellent possible starting points.
I had a similar experience recently to the one Ernie talked about in his post today about Martindale-Hubbell. I received the same type of rating letter as Ernie did. In my case, I found that I recognized only a few names in the three-page list and I simply did not know enough about them or their practices to rank them. So, like Ernie, I threw the letter away.
However, even though I kind of like helping with the rankings, I think that not evaluating lawyers I don't know enough about is much better than guessing about ratings or giving people low grades because I nothing about them. As Ernie mentioned, the ranking system is a little obscure and I'm not sure that what it would mean if someone got that "X" rating on ethics.
The ratings always have had a bit of mystery about them and, for many years, you weren't allowed to use your ranking in your marketing materials, not that putting a little "av" in your materials would mean that much to most people.
I've actually used the Internet version of Martindale Hubbell for many years. In most cases, I'm simply looking for the address, phone number or email address of a lawyer whose name I already know.
I've found two negatives in my use of Martindale.com.
First, it really is not a complete list of all lawyers and firms. Often, it seems, solo and small firm lawyers simply are not in the database and lawyers in corporate legal departments are especially hard to find (perhaps this is done intentionally to keep them from being bombarded with resumes). If lawyers are in the database, the amount of information that is available will vary, depending on the type of (paid) listing they have.
For example, I just checked, because I didn't know for sure, whether I am included in the online directory. It turns out that I am. Compare Ernie's listing to mine and you will see that Ernie's firm probably pays for a higher level of listing, because there is much more information about him than there is about me.
Just now, for example, I checked Marty's listing (Marty, you've never mentioned that you went to Harvard), Denise's listing (Berkeley law school - I assumed one of the Southern California schools), and Tom's listing (OK, I knew the Texas undergrad degree, but wasn't sure about UT as well for law school). I would not have guessed Ernie's law school correctly. Memo to the Between Lawyers group: maybe we need to learn a few more details about each other. I also noted that Lawyer X is not listed in the directory.
Which brings me to my second observation: I've found that, invariably, once you get into the Martindale-Hubbell directory, you get distracted and spend time looking up friends, old classmates and the like.
So, over the years, I found that I preferred the West Lawyer Digest (now part of FindLaw) to the Martindale Hubbell database. However, in many instances, I ended up using both.
These days, I tend to do the quick Google search, but even there the results can be unsatisfying, especially if you are looking for a lawyer with a common name or, more likely, the lawyer's firm has done a poor job in managing its Google rankings. And then there's the all-to-common problem of law firms making it way too difficult to find mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of their lawyers. (Memo to law firms: the danger of losing potential business is much higher when you hide lawyers' email addresses than any potential danger of increasing the the amount of spam you might get by making the email addresses readily available).
All of which leads to the reason for this post, which is that you will definitely want to read the Wired GC's post called "Law 2.0 Through the Martindale-Hubbell Telescope" in connection with Ernie's post, my post and any comments on them. The Wired GC has a fascinating take on this issue and I highly recommend his post.
It's also intriguing to think about these issues in terms of Web 2.0 applications. Imagine using the Martindale database in connection with the Google Maps API to map lawyers with "av" ratings (or matching other criteria) in your geographic area. Or, how about using the Rollyo search engine tool to create mini-search engine that searches only from a limited set of legal directories?
Tom and I (Dennis) have been working on two articles on Web 2.0 for the legal profession that will appear soon in this month's issue of Law Practice Today.
"Web 2.0" is one of those classic Internet phenomena where one group of people are calling it yesterday's news or even dead, while another, much larger group are hearing the term for the very first time. While generally it means that we are pretty far into a trend if lawyers are writing about it, the apps and ideas that generally fall under the category of Web 2.0 will, I think, remain quite interesting for quite a while longer, despite reports of the death of Web 2.0. As they say, "Web 2.0 is dead! Long Live Web 2.0!" Don't get hung on the label - look at what is happening and how it might be useful to you.
I spent some time today reading posts on Rob Hyndman's excellent blog and was well-rewarded for my efforts. As sometimes happens in blogging, I also noticed I had been unknowingly echo-blogging some of the same things he's been posting on. I recommend that you take a visit to his blog and subscribe to its feed.
In particular, note well his post called "Community Review of EULAs, which points to EULAscan, a new service that is starting to collect community reviews of End User License Agreements (EULAs).
Even if you don't get that whole wiki thing, put your imagination to the potential benefits of online repositories of comments, tips and pointers about certain types of agreements, legal situations, issues, forms and the like that would provide some helpful basic guidance and education. That's part of the notion of open source lawyering and Rob is one of the lawyers who has blog the most frequently about the open source lawyering concerpt.
On a related note, Tom Mighell pointed out to me a while back a software tool called the EULAlyzer (free personal version available), which will analyze the clickthrough agreements that pop-up in front of you everywhere you turn these days. The EULAlyzer doesn't, at this point, provide a lot of helpful legal analysis (at least in my opinion as someone who reviews these types of agreements), but that's not its purpose - it focuses on highlighting some of the interesting surprises you might find in EULAs these days.
I'm fascinated by how the EULAlyzer suggests a foundation from which a much more interesting legal tool set could be created. Imagine that kind of tool on the web as a service and you will get an idea of some of what people have in mind when they talk about legal apps in a Web 2.0 world.
Between Lawyers's own Tom Mighell has published an excellent, succinct explanation of basic Web 2.0 concepts, along with a great set of examples that might be used by legal researchers and lawyers. Get the details here.
Tom and I (Dennis) also participated in a roundtable article in the new issue of the ABA's Law Practice Today that a group of us created using the Web 2.0 tools at Writely.com. The article, "Looking Back and Looking Forward" looks at some of the technology tools we used and liked in 2005. The issue had a "Best of 2005" theme and Tom and I also polished up Tom's "Strongest Links: Ethics" column from earlier in the year, and added in some new, interesting ethics sites. The new column can be found here.
I'll note that there's been a lot of discussion about wikis and some new legal wiki projects announced in recent days. It's an area to keep your eyes on.
It's highly likely that we will be putting together a roundtable article about the potential uses of Web 2.0 tools in the legal profession for next month's issue of Law Practice Today. If you are interested in being a contributor to that article, please let me know.