Category Archives: Wisdom of Crowds

Law Clerk Connection – Legal Work Marketplace

Law Clerk Connection

Law Clerk Connection

Recently I ran accross Law Clerk Connection – a marketplace in which “clerks” (and presumably paralegals and maybe lawyers) can connect with “lawyers” (and perhaps small law firms or small companies) that need work done. In other words, those who need work connect with those who need work done. Readers will remember that I’ve documented attempts to bring such a marketplace to life, including Lawrex – a referral trading site created by my collaborator and blogging subject Krieg .

The founder of Law Clerk Connection, Laurel Edgeworth, who studied both anthroplogy and business, describes it as an attempt to supplant a bad business model with a good one (sound familiar?). Specifically, says Ms. Edgeworth

The traditional model of the prestigious big firm with high over-head has actually begun to stifle the firm’s ability to compete. Companies that could anticipate changes in the market environment and change their model to adapt have survived and succeeded. What I found in studying those shape-shifting companies was that they actually scaled-back their workforce, automated, and diversified. The difference: quick and agile beat out large and cumbersome.

A good observation and well phrased. But will it play in Peoria? The ABA Journal will be carrying a piece on the site and surely it will get at least some interest from various quarters around the country. I’m as eager to find out what happens as you are.

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?

what’s your opinion?

 

Todays Assignment ...

Today's Assignment ...

As many of you know I write a column for TechnoLawyer with Ross “the Boss” Kodner.  SmallLaw, previously “Crazy Mazy” … long story, is designed to highlight small firm and solo practice issues. I have always contributed based on what I thought readers  ought to know and assumed that, being a sole-practitioner myself, I was qualified to do so. But what do small firm and sole practitioners really want to know? I’m asking for your feedback. Thanks for taking a minute to give me your thoughts. – MH

Twitter and More Twitter!

Can’t enough Twitter? You’re not alone. Herein I present a selection from the 140+ Twitter tools featured recently on Mashable. I’ve highlighted the ones that lawyers can use right away. If you don’t “get” how they can be useful let me know and I’ll post a follow up or explain via comments.

Posting

Brabblr – Post to all your micro blogging services at once Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Tumblr, Jabber, Frazr, etc.

Autopostr - This service lets your friends in Twitter know when you post a new picture on Flickr.

EmailTwitter – With this service, you can send tweets to Twitter from a cellphone without incurring SMS charges.

GroupTweet – Allows you to post private message to a group of Twitter friends.

Hashtags – You can add tags to your Twitter posts with this service.

HelloTxt – Update Twitter and a host of other micro blogging and social networking sites with one click.

LinkBunch – Need to share more than one link in a tweet? LinkBunch puts together all the links and provides you one link that you can share on Twitter. As you might have understood, this can be used not just with Twitter, but also with emails, IMs, SMS, etc.

LiveTwitting – Helps you cover a conference live on Twitter. Similar to liveblogging, only cooler.

MicroRevie – Post reviews on twitter accs and this service will turn them into microformats.

Mobypicture – A service to post to your blog and micro-blogging sites like Twitter through your mobile phone.

OutTwit – A tool for Outlook that will send the latest tweets from your friends as incoming email messages.

SecretTweet - Post to Twitter anonymously. If you really need to.

SnapTweet – Allows you to post your Flickr pictures to Twitter.

Snitter – Adobe AIR desktop client for Twitter compatible with Mac and Windows.

Twhirl – desktop client based on Adobe AIR. Impressive features including multiple Twitter accounts, connect to Friendfeed, post image to Twitpic, post to Pownce and Jaiku simultaneously, and search using Tweetscan.

TweetCube – This service allows you to post files on Twitter. Files that can be shared include .zip, .rar, .pdf, .jpg, .png, .gif, .mp3 and .txt.

Tweetr- an AIR based Twitter client for MAC and PC. You can use this to send files upto 100MB.

Twibler – posts your ebay listings to Twitter automatically.

Twideeo – You can post videos to Twitter using this service that lets you upload the vid to their site and then generates a link to your video.

Twit+ – You can tweet pictures, videos, and files using this service publicly or privately among your friends on Twitter.

Twitxr – Another neat way to post a picture on Twitter, Facebook, or Picassa.

TweetChannel – You can add TweetChannel as your friend in Twitter to help you channel your various posts.

TweetLater – An useful service to schedule your Twitter posts for the future.

Twitpic – Share pictures on Twitter using Twitpic.

Twitsay – You can tweet an audio recording to Twitter using this new and popular service.

Twits Like Me – You can use this service to find people on Twitter who share your interests.

TwitterCal – This service allows you to post events from your Google calendar to your Twitter accounts.

Twitter Feed – This tool allows you to send your blog atom or RSS feed to Twitter.

TwitterGram – Post an mp3 on Twitter using this service.

Twitteroo – This is another popular desktop client for Twitter.

TwitterIM – Using this tool, you can tweet from Windows Live Messenger and ICQ.

Twitterlights – This tool allows you to highlight snippets of text from any webpage and send it to twitter. The url of the page also gets converted into a tinyurl and gets included in your tweet.

Twitter Reply – With this tool, you can send your Twitter updates on a secret email address, or through Windows Live Messenger or ICQ.

Twittershare – This desktop/web application also allows you to post pictures on Twitter. Works on Mac as well.

VisualTwitter – Allow you to post pictures on Twitter.

Reading

TopTweet – This site provides you updates from the top Twitter personalities. Yes, it took us a lot of tries to take a screenshot without Scoble in it.

TweetWire – TweetWire grabs the freshest links posted on Twitter and displays them Yahoo News page style.

Twitter100 – Just like in your personal start pages, this tool will allocate a box to each of the people you follow on a single page and display their latest tweets.

Twitterator – Twitterator enables you to follow a group of people at one go.

Twitter Digest – This tool allows you to subscribe to a message stream from a Twitter user of a group of users on the web or through an atom feed.

Alpha Twitter - This site provides you with the top links on Twitter.

Search

Summize - The leader of this space; lets you create an RSS feed consisting of posts responsive to your query.

Flaptor Twitter Search - Simple Twitter search engine. You can get an RSS feed out of your search query as well.

Terraminds - Another search tool for Twitter.

Tweet Scan – This is a search engine for Twitter indexing all the public messages on Twitter.

Twits Like Me – This tool helps you find people on Twitter who share your interests.

Twitterment – Search engine for Twitter powered by Google search.

TwitterWho – Using this, you can search for multiple queries on Twitter at one go.

Twubble – Find people who share your interests and highlight current friends you already follow.

Analytics

TwitBuzz – Follows links, messages, and users on Twitter and displays them nicely on its site Digg-style.

TweetBeep – Like Google Alerts – sends an alert whenever a keyword is mentioned or somebody links to you.

TwitGraph – Provides graphs of your Twitter usage – tweets by day, top 5 words, top 5 links, top replies.

Twitterlinkr – Shows the most popular links being posted on Twitter.

24oclocks - Tweets displayed by the hour of the day.

GeoTwitterous – Displays where the people you follow call home on a global map.

My Tweet Map – Latest tweets from your friends on a map.

Quotably – Check out a user’s conversations in a conversation thread. Extremely useful.

Sitevolume – Like Alexa: lets you see how many times a term has been used on Twitter, Digg, MySpace, YouTube, or Flickr. Add in multiple terms and see bar graphs comparing the terms.

Twetterboard – An analytics service that provides information about popular Twitter users and popular links.

Tweetburner – Tweetburner gives you click stats for the links you posted in Twitter.

Twittermeter – See how frequently a word has been used on Twitter. You can also compare two or more words.

Twemes – Twemes follows Twitter public messages with particular tags to build a meme around a topic.

TweetStats – Twitter statistics including timeline, tweets/mo. and tweets/hr.

TweetVolume – See how many times a particular word appears; compare up to 5 words via bar graph.

TwitterLocal – This tool allows you to generate an RSS Feed of a filtered list of tweets from a certain area.

Tweetmeme – Displays popular topics on Twitter and those people talking about that topic.

Twist – Trends of what people are saying on Twitter (like Google Trends for internet search words).

Twittermap – This tool displays the most recent public updates in the last 12 hours.

Twittermeter – Allows you to compare any keywords used on Twitter on through a graphical interface.

Twitt(url)y – Tracks the most linked to urls on Twitter and display them Digg-style.

iPhone + Others

Twitter for iPhone - Another Twitter client for your iPhone.

iTwtr - This is an open source Twitter client for iphones.

Pocket Tweets – A web based Twitter client for the iphone.

Twittai – A Java-based Twitter client compatible with more than 200 kinds of mobile phones.

ceTwit – Twitter client for Windows Mobile. Not as cool as the iPhone versions, but then again, what is?

Twapper - Send updates from your 30boxes calendar to your mobile phone using Twitter.

TwitterFone – You can update Twitter from your mobile phone using this service.

Qik – Stream videos from mobile phone to Twitter. Works really well.

Utilities

Crowd Status - View the status of friends on one page.

@answerme – Track the questions you ask.

CommuterFeed – Shared traffic reports using Twitter.

Hahlo – if you are not satisfied with your Twitter interface, you can check out Hahlo to manage your Twitter account. It gives you a separate profile page and the rest of the Twitter features in a new look.

LoudTwitter – This tool posts your Twitter posts on your blog. Hey, isn’t Twitter supposed to be some kind of a blog, too? Now I’m confused.

My Tweeple – Manage your friends and followers in Twitter on a single web page.

Politweets – You can check out your presidential candidate’s popularity on Twitter here.

StrawPoll – Sends out polls on Twitter that you can participate on. As they say, you can never have too many polls.

TrackThis – Get updates of your shipment using Twitter. It supports FedEx, UPS, USPS and DHL tracking codes.

Twitterfeed – Posts your blog posts automatically to Twitter.

Tweetclouds – Create a word cloud from a public Twitter stream using this service.

Tweet Clouds - Make a tag cloud from your Twitter posts.

Tweetpeek – You can create a group Twitter feed with Tweetpeek.

TweetWheel – You can find out which of your Twitter friends know each other with this service.

Twitku – Mashup of Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce public timelines. You can also post from its interface.

Twitpoll – You can participate on polls using Twitter through Twitpoll.

Tweetshots – this service allows you to take your Twitter posts to Tumblr, embed in websites, or send over email.

TwitterAnswers – Combines Twitter and Mosio so that you can send questions over Twitter and have them answered by other people.

Twitter Census – You can create surveys on Twitter using this service.

TwitterNotes – You can create notes on TwitterNotes using Twitter and tagging your notes.

Xpenser – Record your expenses using Twitter. You can also use other mediums like email, SMS, IM, voice, etc.

Wired NextFest 2008 – You Are There

nextfest 2008 logo

A Face For Radio

Vintage TV show You Are There represented early television’s attempt to evoke a live event by recreating a historical one. Kind of like reporting or blogging. As a TV show however, it was the kind of yawner that could only have aired at a time when the medium was desperate for content and network executives reasoned that any show that had enjoyed success on the radio couldn’t miss on TV. So what’s that got to do with NextFest 2008? Let me explain.

Mr. Micro Meet Mr. Blog

When I got the invitation to hear Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson talk about his book Free! I planned to blog the experience as I had the ABA TechShow and other events over the past few years.

But when I arrived at NextFest something told me this was going to be different. Maybe it was the pervasive use of blue lights or the elegant feng shui of the exhibits; maybe I had an epiphany wedged in the front row of the audience between one lady holding a video-camera over my head and another balancing a pocket recorder between thumb and forefinger inches from my face. Whatever the reason, I knew that I had to take evasive action. My answer: iPhone + Twitterphone. You can see the results in this companion post or choose to follow me on Twitter.

So…What’s The Connection?

As Anderson noted in his presentation, The Future of Free (which is really just his spin on Joseph Schumpeter‘s theory of “creative destruction”), there are a number of forces that link new ideas and new media, from You Are There in the early days of television to Twitter on the Internet. They are:

  • Fear of scarcity brings out radically different behaviors than hopes of abundance
  • The latter inevitably leads to waste – the good kind that encourages trial-and-error
  • Where the cost of failure is virtually zero, experimentation will flourish
  • Where people are trying new things all the time, at least 1 good idea is bound to assert itself
  • If the attempt is a bust, the cycle can quickly restart thanks to low barriers and costs

In the end, You Are There wasn’t so much a TV show as a radio program retrofitted for the new medium. It wasn’t until mass adoption of TV-sets and the ubiquity of free programming a decade later that broadcasters began understanding that they could afford to fail and not lose their audience. The experience lead TV in directions that its inventors could never have foreseen.

The Future of Free! Is The Future of the Internet

The Internet is our generation’s zero-cost distribution system; our TV. Twitter itself is a perfect example of how the Internet has lead to waste – the wrong and right kinds. So what if Twitter and its clones turn out to be spectacular failures? It doesn’t matter; the eco-system created by the Internet is still at work so long as thousands of failures lead to 1 good idea. After all, that’s what the future of free is all about.

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What: Wired NextFest 2008
When: Saturday, September 27, 2008 (all day)
Where: Millennium Park, Chase Promenade

55 N Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois United States

The Shape of Things To Come

pyramid power

law firm growth rates

law firm growth rates

As anyone who’s worked at one will tell you, law firms are designed to push work downward and grow by doubling the number of staff for every associate, and adding an associate for every rainmaker. Firms can keep this up as long as those at the top generate business. As a result  the classic law firm pyramid doesn’t “grow” so much as it expands in all directions at the base.

That wide base makes for a stable structure; not only that, but minions are notoriously good at billing, overstaffed offices make clients feel secure, law schools fawn over big firms, and the obscene profit margins prove that doing things this way is an absolute good.

In fact even auxiliary players favor this approach: from Westlaw and Lexis to office supply stores, everyone makes out when clients foot the bill. ‘But,’ you ask, ‘what about lawyer satisfaction … staff retention … client service?’ Grow up. Firms are too timid to change, billable hours punish efficiency, rainmakers would rather find cheap employees than leverage information; and the type of client that can afford such services is either cost insensitive or doesn’t know they’re being taken. Then again no-one ever got fired for hiring IBM, right? It’s win-win baby!

Ironically, the ones motivated to change the system are so buried in it that they’re rarely seen or heard from. But that may be changing thanks to the big 2.0 – Web 2.0, Law 2.0, whatever 2.0. The point is that applications like Digg, Flickr, Blogger, and Twitter could become the nimble alternatives to the standard bloatware spewing from Microsoft and IBM. If so then the Gen-Y users of these apps could very well level the playing field at many firms or just jumpish ship altogether. The result is that more and more the hierarchy of the firm is giving way to the mesh of relationships we might call the un-law firm.

Of course there is a wide gulf between theory and action, but real change could take place soon; and for all we know may already be happening. The question is, given the opportunity would we support  these kinds of changes or resist them? To answer that question I refer back to my first year in business school when were were taught about the “Buggy Whip” industry at the outset of the 20th century.

circle of life

the un-law firm

It seems that when cars were introduced in the late 1800′s the companies that made carriages and whips laughed out loud. They had a track record going back to the golden age of Western civilization, while cars were loud, uncomfortable, complex, and quite frankly dangerous. Who would want one of those they reasoned? I guess we know how that one turned out.

Better still, e-mail me at mhedayat[at]mha-law.com with your thoughts.

Cheers.