Category Archives: FindLaw

matrix of e-discovery software

How eDiscovery Works

How eDiscovery Works

Greg Buckles of the EDRM Project has created an easy to use, expandable matrix of e-discovery specific applications. This is not the only legal software list (litigation support firm lexbe has one here, and Findlawhas long had some level of software listings) this one should make it easy to sort through the veritable forest of ED applications out there, all of which claim to be the greatest thing since you-know-what.

ABA TechShow: The Video

Live from TechShow 2009 ...

Live from TechShow 2009 ...

 

Thought I’d share some choice video from TechShow 2009 featuring all 4 of the Best of Show winners that I wrote up in TechnoLawyer, plus interviews with some of my heroes such as Bob Ambrogi, Jay Funeberg, and Kevin O’Keefe, as well as sightings of legal blogging all-stars like Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighelle. I’m still excited.  

 

See related videos here and find me on YouTube as practicehacker

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 🙂

Law 1.0 Alive and Well!

Free Answers for Legal Questions 

While the online world whizzes by legal websites often appear stuck in first gear. Even after all this time many attorney aggregators and portals are little more than flat online brochures. Are such Law 1.0 features a good thing; a bad thing, or anything at all? The answer: yes, no, and definitely.

Beyond the Directory

Recently, sites like Avvo have come along to challenge the status quo established a decade ago by the relatively featureless alphabetical directories fielded by Lexis (lawyers.com) and Westlaw (findlaw.com). But with only 2 choices, many don’t see the Internet as a viable place to find a good lawyer.

Starting The Conversation

Years before we learned to participate on Flickr, Digg, and the rest of the Web 2.0 all-stars, Ask.com and About.com were catering to thousands of Internet users who wanted answers to real-life questions. Today of course everyone from Yahoo! Answers to LinkedIn has incorporated interactive Q+A features and lawyer aggregators have been no exception.

Lawguru is typical of early lawyer-aggregation sites: for all intents and purposes it’s just a forum for questions and answers, but its success encouraged real world publisher Nolo Press to get into the act and soon it became clear that giving people answers was a great way for lawyers to market economically online. There was just one more development needed to shift the focus of online attorney marketing entirely to prospects, and it was supplied by pay-to-play sites such as Legal Match. These sites hat made no bones about the fact that they watned to bring lawyers and clients together – a position that was controversial because, among other things, that role had traditionally been filled by local bar associations (and it was a money-making venture at that).

Lawfiles.net 

Just when it seemed like interactive were slowing down and maturing, the idea of bringing lawyers and clients together got a shot in the arm from Lawfiles.net – a lawyer-run site that aggregates and connects lawyers and prospects for free. Lawfiles.net has also avoided the urge to promote hobnobbing a la FaceBook or My Space, It is a direct link straight to the legal community, and possibly the best way we’ve seen yet to put the Internet to work.

The site’s interface is intuitive and friendly: essentially, prospects submit questions and lawyers provide short answers. The value proposition for attorneys is obvious – Lawfiles is their virtual shingle. As long as they can receive e-mail lawyers can respond to anyone, anytime. And the site provides other advantages to lawyers; for instance

  • it creates a direct route to people with needs
  • it quickly augments your online body of work
  • it can build credentials faster than a website
  • it is much more interactive than a blog
  • it provides free listings – others charge to do this
  • it’s always free for lawyers and prospects to use

Overall Lawfiles offers a simple but sophisticated way for lawyers to use the Internet as a client-generation tool – like all interactive websites it puts lawyers in touch with prospects, but like a blog it also allows particpants to create a body of work that gets indexed by search engines – making their answers an invaluable part of their online marketing strategy. And did I mention it’s free?

To learn more about building your practice with Lawfiles, check out the How It Works page, join for free, then grab your listing on their searchable directory.

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.

the business of law gets more business-y

Highlights of the article posted today by the ABA from author Molly McDonough

image

The image of a businessman dressed in a dark suit, slipping on a banana peel and about to fall flat on his rear may give Web users an idea of the types of lawyers they might find starting in September on WhoCanISue.com. The new website, founded by Florida lawyer Curtis A. Wolfe, aims to connect attorneys with potential clients. “The new site, backed by individuals from the legal and online marketing communities, is designed to fill the gap in the market with a model that gives consumers greater control, safety, and efficiency, and creates more qualified inquiries for participating attorneys,” a news release states. [read more …]

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ABA TechShow 2008 – presentation materials available

AI – Advanced IT/Security
CR – Client Relationships
ED – E-Discovery
GG Going Green
IN – Internet
LF – Large Firm / Corporate Counsel
LT – Litigation
MA – Mac Track
MO – Microsoft Office
MT – Mobile Technology
PO – Paperless Office
RM – Records Management
RT – Roundtables
SSI – Solo / Small Firm I
SSII – Solo / Small Firm II
SM – Show Me How

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