Category Archives: referrals

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 🙂

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!

The ABA gets it … right?

legallyminded

I’m not easy on lawyers when it comes to our use of, appreciation  for, or attitude towards technology. We are not open-minded or fair when it comes to new ideas: most of us either have too much to hide or are flat-out scared.

And even money says that 100% of lawyers over 40 (including judges, legislators, and influential practitioners) see the Internet as a cross between the Yellow Pages and a virtual red-light district.

So I can’t imagine what possessed the American Bar Association to field legallyminded – a do-it-all combo site consisting of wikis, blogs, articles, social-networking, and … who knows what’s next? So much about this site is uncharacteristic of the legal profession and it’s flagship professional organization that I hardly know where to start. But I’ll tell you this – I’m impressed.

That’s right: this isn’t sarcasm. I’m serious: this site is a great attempt to pull our profession into the  next iteration of the Internet and the universe of new communication world of new media and rapid communication. How it fairs remains to be seen, but even trying earns the ABA my respect. Check out legallyminded here.

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 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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Avvo v. The ARDC – Battle Royale

Ed. Note: Readers will remember my zealous defense of Avvo in its early going, as well as the controversy surrounding that position (what I call a “free market” stance). Here is a selection from those rebellious times. But it wasn’t until this year that Avvo’s rabble-rousing approach to the legal marketplace reached Illinois, that shining jewel set in the silver sea of the Midwest. The Paris of fly-over territory. And when Avvo arrived its new ideas were welcomed by our foreward-thinking judiciary with open arms (and clenched fists). But don’t take my word for it ..

Avvo

Avvo

The Illinois ARDC Responds to Avvo’s Petition

July 8th, 2008 by Josh King, VP of Business Development and General Counsel

I received the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s response to Avvo’s Illinois Supreme Court petition yesterday. Although I had hoped that the ARDC would simply ask the court for guidance in dealing with the apparent disagreement between public records law and the ARDC’s 28-year-old guidelines for providing attorney records, the ARDC went to some lengths to defend its guidelines and take issue with what Avvo is doing. I’m not entirely sure why – the guidelines in question have survived both the advent of the internet and the explosion of openness in most state open records laws, so there surely would be no shame in inquiring whether the policy is still relevant, let alone whether it complies with the current state of Illinois law on public access to judicial records.

The guidelines in question, you see, generally prohibit the dissemination of the Attorney Roll to nn-Illinois entities or for most commercial uses (for-profit Illinois CLE providers are exempt). Putting aside the only-for-Illinois portion of the guidelines (a restriction that surely doesn’t meet the standards of the federal Constitution’s Privileges and Immunities clause), the ARDC has focused on Avvo’s status as a commercial entity and Avvo’s use of the attorney records. Along the way, the ARDC has attempted to understand how Avvo works. Unfortunately, it hasn’t done so via the lens of the consumer. So let’s clear up some misconceptions the folks in Springfield hold: [read the rest here]