Category Archives: bankruptcy

ABA TechShow 2009 – Short and SaaSy

Were the ABA Damnit!

We're the ABA Damnit! We own you!

This was my 10th year at ABA Technology Show in Chicago. This year was particularly cool.  Here’s why:

Meeting The Heavies: To me, seeing people like Dennis Kennedy, Tom Mighelle, Bob Ambrogi, Jim Calloway, Kevin O’Keefe, Brett Burney, Andy Atkins, Jay Foonberg (!) and the rest of my pretend blog friends … I mean pretend LinkedIn friends … is like reconnecting with long lost relatives. Exciting and a little intimidating. But all of them were really great and down to earth. Except that Kennedy. Such a prima donna. I kid, I kid.

Meeting Canadians: Who can forget meeting the Great Librarian of Upper Canada! Beat that. Then there was Phil of the Future (my name for him), Steve Matthews (nice guy), Brett Burney (I think he’s Canadian), Dominic Jaar (vive la Quebec libre!), the boys from Clio (or as I called them, the Booth Babes), and a host of other talent from the Great White North. It was great to meet you all: now go back where the ice doesn’t melt until July.

Technology Becoming Accepted: This year for the first time in memory I noticed a preponderance of grey hairs and the careful gait of partners scoping out potential buys for their offices.  This was not the brash, flash-in-the-pan TechShow of the late-90’s in which the Internet was decried as a fad.

SaaS, Saas, and more Saas: Software as a service was all over the place, and by next year it will be pervasive. This year I was knocked out by the number and variety of kick-ass SaaS providers at the show including Clio, RocketMatter, and VLO Tech. Clio was my hands-down favorite for a number of reasons – I intend to use it in my own practice. Whatever your cup of tea, the idea of throwing away the IT department in favor of the Cloud is gaining traction fast.

Less is … Less: One lamentable fact about this  year’s show – there was less of it than I’ve seen in a long time. Another casualty of the economy I’d say, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that many legal technology vendors have been slaves to profit instead of boosters for innovation and the slow economy is making it painfully apparent what a royal screw job they’ve been giving lawyers all these years. Many players couldn’t make it ? Good riddance to bad company.

Other than that however, it was a great experience as always and one that I heartily recommend to one and all. If you haven’t been to TechShow, go there. If you have, come back. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

For more coverage see my SmallLaw Column in TechnoLawyer.

Check out Twitter coverage of TechShow.

As always, I’d love your thoughts. E-mail me at mhedayat[at]mha-law.com or tweet me @practichacker.

ttyl :-)

Oh, the humanity!

law firm layoffs continue ...

law firm layoffs continue ...

I just discovered a blog (I refuse to say “blawg”) called Lawshucks that’s done a really impressive job of tracking the carnage created by big-firm layoffs (now a weekly announcement). Here is a set of quick links to their well-designed graphical representations

Follow this link to see the whole post.  Once you sneak a peek you may wonder, as I did, whether these high-profile layoffs are merely normal attrition; or the result of outsourcing; the economic downturn; an excuse to shed sub-standard performers? Or were there really just too many lawyers to begin with? Maybe these big firms have really been bottom-heavy, lumbering organizations and law schools should have applied the breaks years ago when everybody in the industry saw this coming? Any chance of that?

still a bargain at $1,000/hr

Who says lawyers can’t get good work these days? Take this piece for instance from the ABA Journal:

Kirkland & Ellis Seeks Fee of $18.50 a Minute for Bankruptcy Work

Posted Jan 28, 2009 By Debra Cassens Weiss

Kirkland & Ellis has requested a fee of $1,110 an hour in a corporate bankruptcy, a possible record amount, according to one expert. The hourly rate breaks down to $18.50 a minute, Bloomberg reports. The law firm is seeking the fee for its representation of titanium dioxide-maker Tronox Inc. Two other law firms are seeking nearly as much, requesting hourly rates in excess of $1,000, according to the story. They are Sidley Austin, in the restructuring of the Tribune Co., and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, representing Circuit City. Bankruptcy law professor Lynn LoPucki of the University of California at Los Angeles told the wire service that fees for lawyers and other professionals in bankruptcy cases are growing at four times the rate of inflation. “As the economy gets worse, the bankruptcy lawyers are charging more,” LoPucki told Bloomberg. “It seems that each month one sets a new record for hourly billing rates. $1,110 is, to my knowledge, a record for the debtor’s bankruptcy counsel.”

And you thought the economy was having problems!

“when its published we’ll take notice..”

Law.com has 2 recent posting this LPM member strongly encourages you review:

    What to do without local E-Discovery Rules……
   Amy Karan and Kansas Gooden point out: Lawyers should advise clients to develop a
   written document retention policy and sensitize clients to the potential risks
   including sanctions and adverse inferences for violations.

    Ignore Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX 404)at your Peril………
   Thus, it is critical for every entity to ensure that its records-retention policy
    includes appropriate triggers — called “litigation holds”

      It’s always alot easier to expand a relationship with a current client vs finding a new one.   Sales/Marketing 101.  Obviously previous posts on this subject gathered limited interest.  Since I consultant “Storage Solutions” to Mid-size companies here are some responses from clients I’m suppose too help:

  • “since there is no HIPPA police, why get crazy..”  Senior Living complex
  • “our competitors get sued, that’s our growth…”    Manufacture
  • “we have never had that issue, don’t see it…”        Trucking firm
  • “email’s, individuals cancel their own…”                  International Exporter
  • “worse scenerio, we’ll pay some silly fine…”            Property Management Firm

     I’m sure Mazy has a smile reading this:  Bankruptcy Clients….

Lawyers need a friend too…

    Ed. Note: This post is from John so I’m the subject. When I need John to give me social advice you know things are going downhill …

    After reviewing a few of his recent post(s) I had to take a moment to drive down to Bolingbrook and reassure myself that Mazy hadn’t stop taking his medication and had no weapons within reach. The man needs a hug… the scathing letter he wrote to the New York Times is typical of someone yelling in a forest where even the animals don’t care. Loud, but not really effective; much like his farewell editorial in the June 2006 issue of the DCBA Bar Brief. Despite little outbursts like that … I must admit to a fondness for the guy. See, this is the time of year during which lawyers always seem to have a little extra time on their hands, which they inevitably use to read, reflect, and revisit past efforts (both good and bad). So we revisited some points of conversation yesterday such as

    Monetizing a Blog: simple in principle (solicit advertisers or just use Google Adwords) but hard to execute and often of questionable value. Part of the problem is that Adwords displays any vendor – including your competitors – so it’s often not appealing to advertisers who want exclusive reign. Then there’s the problem of volume: unless your traffic is in the stratosphere (like say … porn), your payout is in pennies and hardly amounts to a hill of beans, besides which Google won’t even send a payout if it’s less than a certain threshold amount. But there is hope; often your web host will have a ready-made affiliate program in place so you can seamlessly move ads onto your blog. In the end however, since the PM blog is in the legal space the focus of the discussion should probably be legal work or technology consulting for lawyers. That is the real question … does blogging bring business? Different discussion altogether.

    The Domain Name Lottery (what’s old is new): This is a blast from the past. Remember when someone paid $3,000,000 for “Alta Vista.com?” Well apparently the domain name gold rush is back on and people are buying up snappy phrases once again at a feverish clip. But wait … isn’t that cybersquatting? Isn’t that illegal? Actually no; don’t confuse domain speculation (a “legitimate” way to make money) with cybersquatting which is illegal. See, squatters will take a domain name that is “actively sought” based on the number of related search inquires and redirect those who visit the site to another site altogether (such as a porn site or what have you). Domain speculators on the other hand buy up names to either sell or use them – even if not for what you’d expect. You might say this second category of speculators is buying and selling futures of a sort – Internet domain futures if you will.

      Example: Take my work with Mazy on the subject of bankruptcy. Economic conditions being what they are, bankruptcy is once again a hot issue. Take the 3 words: bankruptcy, attorney, Illinois. Those 3 words in some combination or other have grown to over 2.3 million listings. The trick is creating a name that fits into a growth sector like that.

      Example: BioMedMedia.com is a name we own. We can activate a site anytime but instead of doing all the work, letting our competitors know what we’re doing, and invite new ones as well, it makes sense to first develop a business model and establish the company. It’s just common sense, and buying a domain name ahead of time is just good planning.

       

      That said, one of the biggest problems for lawyers is not that they lack choices, but rather that their industry throttles itself (or at least threatens to squelch the younger, more tender practices) by being too restrictive. But you should still make an effort to break from the break with the institutional format, especially if you’re a small firm or solo. Take for example names such as ScottFreeMe.com or DriveThruLegal.com. Of course asking Mazy to push the edge is like watching a cat walk the fence viewing both sides, this is when I throw something and say damn it choose. Use your background, culture, professional experience hell your a lawyer for peat-sakes, buy the way my find friend you just missed another: iraniangreencard.com is taken. I was thinking Iranianlawyer.com, we’ll see how long it takes for Mazy or someone reading to purchase this…

      what the Amp’d bankruptcy means

      Amp’d Mobile

      As noted in this article and my recent post on the subject, the bankruptcy of hip/hot cell phone company Amp’d Mobile could have far-reaching implications for this niche industry. Here is what was noted in that blog

      Hypergrowth Not To Blame. On June 1st, Amp’d filed for Chapter 11 citing growth as a disruptive element to their back-end infrastructure. In the days following, a more complicated picture emerged though, implicating Verizon Wireless, the carrier from which Amp’d bought network time at wholesale, in a strong-arm scheme to recover more than $30 million in back payments.

      One of a Kind or First of its Kind? According to its Chapter 11 documents, Amp’d’s problem wasn’t a lack of customers (it reportedly had about 200,000) – it was that the customers weren’t paying. Instead a full 40% of its subscribers had missed payments amounting to roughly $2 million, or a month’s payroll. In short, the real cause of the Amp’d meltdown was good old fashioned red-blooded American mismanagement and capitalist greed. Not to mention poor customer credit screening. The real question is whether these factors will play a part in the fortunes of all such players, or whether Amp’d was an orphan – a lone gunman, an outlier – or whether it was merely the first salvo in an oncoming landslide.

      Can Amp’d Get a Better Signal? Could Amp’d recover? Possibly. Short answer ‘Yes’ with an if … long answer ‘No’ with a but. To stay competitive Amp’d will have to deliver better pricing, better handsets and equipment, or better services in the future. Then there are the deep discounts that Amp’d will have to provide to compete with Virgin Mobile and the unique content and services it will need to stay on top of Boost Mobile and Helio.

      document automation :: process consulting :: e-discovery consulting

      Looking for an Associate: Springer Brown et al.

      Springer, Brown, Covey, Gaertner & Davis is interested in adding an Associate Attorney with at least 2 years of litigation experience. According to partner Mike Davis:

      • they will teach the recruit bankruptcy law and practice

      • they would like someone who is outgoing and interested in being very active in the DuPage or Kane County Bar Association

      The Firm says that this would be an excellent opportunity for a young lawyer interested in building a practice to learn a specialized area of law.  Send your resume to Michael J. Davis, Esq.