I’ve been a fan and a reader of everything Patrick McKenna of the Edge Group has written for many years. An Edge Group training course I took on rainmaking while at The Stolar Partnership was very important in my professional development. It was quite a thrill when Patrick attended the initial LexThink event and I got to meet him in person.
So, when Patrick lets me know about something new that he finds innovative and exciting, I’m all ears.
His latest project, with Baker & Daniels’ Chair Emeritus Brian Burke and Managing Partner Magazine, is the Leadership Advisory Board. The Board is a service for new law firm managing partners to get advice from experienced and knowledgeable managing partners through an interactive forum.
I’ve met a good number of young managing partners in the last few years who have talked to me about their wish to have a way to learn more about how to manage firms, get advice for the challenging questions they face and find some mentoring. Patrick aptly has described it as a “safe sounding board.”
It looks like a case where need meets solution, which, given Patrick’s involvement, doesn’t surprise me in the least. This development is one to watch.
And, the Board, to me, gives us another glimpse of what Law 2.0 developments might look like.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming Soon: The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.
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A special welcome to first-time visitors who found this blog via Tom Collins’ post on Recommended Blogs for Those Involved in Law Firm Management on the More Partner Income blog.
It’s always nice to have your work recognized and I appreciated Tom adding this blog to his very useful list of recommended blogs. It’s great to find my blog on such an impressive list and I appreciate Tom’s nice comments about me.
I’ve definitely noticed more interest than ever before in blogs on the part of law firm management types in the last year or so. In large part, that’s due to the large amount of high quality and timely information and commentary about law firm management topics you find every single day on blogs that cover this topic.
Tom’s list is an excellent place to start, but don’t stop with his list. Be sure to explore on your own and find some more great blogs that will bring you great, practical and timely info on the subjects that matter to you.
Hmm, I notice that I keep mentioning timely information. As a writer, one of the greatest things about blogging is instant publication and getting your written immediately in front of your audience. I currently have several articles (and very good article, if I say so myself) written from more than a month to several months ago that are still waiting to come out in print. Since I usually don’t write on the same topics until an article I’ve written appears it print, it bothers me not to have that article and other thoughts on the same topic out. I’ll also be very happy when the book is out – I’ve never ever had so much material written for so long that hasn’t appeared in print or on the Internet. That will change soon, though, with the book release in a couple of weeks.
If you haven’t seen Tom’s post on recommended blogs for law firm management, then what are you waiting for? Head on over and check it out.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming Soon: The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.
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With the economy looking a little shaky (or more than a little shaky) and some rumblings already about law firms considering laying off lawyers, the solo option will become a consideration for many lawyers in 2008.
The short answer to your question is to find a great mentor. However, that’s really the answer to any question about the practice of law and it’s easier said than done.
In my own case, the advice I got that really stuck with me was to be sure to be able to identify exactly where your first client from a client would come from. That simple exercise helps you move from fantasy to reality.
In my recent Blawggie awards, I singled out the solo practice blogs as being a great resource for solos and aspiring solos. You’ll want to do some reading there.
This question also gives me the chance to single out and praise Carolyn Elefant’s new book, Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be. I had the privilege of reading a pre-publication version of the book and wrote the following short blurb about it:

Carolyn Elefant’s new book continues the tradition of her MyShingle.com website, which I once called “the perfect example of a great web resource.” It’s chock-full of exactly the practical advice I was looking for when I left a big firm to go solo. Highly recommended.

It’s the most current of the books about solo practice. It’s also worth tracking down a copy of the latest edition of Flying Solo (you’ll find a few chapters in there that I wrote) and, of course, Jay Foonberg’s classic, How to Start and Build a Law Firm.
However, after having left a large firm to go out on my own almost five years ago and spent a good deal of time thinking about the solo practice and how best to prepare for it and improve how you do it, I’ve recently found a resource that I plan to recommend so much that people will get tired of hearing it from me.
The best advice I can give right now is to watch regularly and study BBC’s Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

My cable company shows it on Thursday nights on BBC America, but you can also buy a DVD. I’ve recently started watching it and it’s a revelation to me. There’s so much that I can see in the show that I wish I would have known earlier.
In the show, restaurateur, chef and absolute master of dropping the F-bomb, Gordon Ramsay, visits and tries to turn around a struggling restaurant and its struggling chef and owner. What is key for a solo practice is how he helps you walk the line between business and profession, accounting and art.
If I were thinking of starting a solo practice now, I’d watch episode after episode of this until I started to see the repeating patterns, the common issues and the common solutions. It really does start to become clear what will work and what won’t (at least in concept – implementation and execution are vital factors as well). It strikes me that in the successful situations there is a fascinating balance between being ruthless objective about what you are doing and, at the same time, being very passionate about the service and product that you provide. In addition to some valuable business lessons that you’ll see play out in a number of settings, you will also get a feel for whether the life of running a business is something that you want to have. I can’t recommend immersing yourself in this show enough, and you will also get the side benefit of learning a whole lot about good food and fantastic new ways to use swear words.
That’s my best advice these days. That, and to be willing to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about whether or not the solo life really fits you. You do not want to become a effing solo practice nightmare.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
If you enjoy this blog, remember it has its own Amazon Wishlist and appreciates your generosity. 😉
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With the economy looking a little shaky (or more than a little shaky) and some rumblings already about law firms considering laying off lawyers, the solo option will become a consideration for many lawyers in 2008.
The short answer to your question is to find a great mentor. However, that’s really the answer to any question about the practice of law and it’s easier said than done.
In my own case, the advice I got that really stuck with me was to be sure to be able to identify exactly where your first client from a client would come from. That simple exercise helps you move from fantasy to reality.
In my recent Blawggie awards, I singled out the solo practice blogs as being a great resource for solos and aspiring solos. You’ll want to do some reading there.
This question also gives me the chance to single out and praise Carolyn Elefant’s new book, Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be. I had the privilege of reading a pre-publication version of the book and wrote the following short blurb about it:

Carolyn Elefant’s new book continues the tradition of her MyShingle.com website, which I once called “the perfect example of a great web resource.” It’s chock-full of exactly the practical advice I was looking for when I left a big firm to go solo. Highly recommended.

It’s the most current of the books about solo practice. It’s also worth tracking down a copy of the latest edition of Flying Solo (you’ll find a few chapters in there that I wrote) and, of course, Jay Foonberg’s classic, How to Start and Build a Law Firm.
However, after having left a large firm to go out on my own almost five years ago and spent a good deal of time thinking about the solo practice and how best to prepare for it and improve how you do it, I’ve recently found a resource that I plan to recommend so much that people will get tired of hearing it from me.
The best advice I can give right now is to watch regularly and study BBC’s Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

My cable company shows it on Thursday nights on BBC America, but you can also buy a DVD. I’ve recently started watching it and it’s a revelation to me. There’s so much that I can see in the show that I wish I would have known earlier.
In the show, restaurateur, chef and absolute master of dropping the F-bomb, Gordon Ramsay, visits and tries to turn around a struggling restaurant and its struggling chef and owner. What is key for a solo practice is how he helps you walk the line between business and profession, accounting and art.
If I were thinking of starting a solo practice now, I’d watch episode after episode of this until I started to see the repeating patterns, the common issues and the common solutions. It really does start to become clear what will work and what won’t (at least in concept – implementation and execution are vital factors as well). It strikes me that in the successful situations there is a fascinating balance between being ruthless objective about what you are doing and, at the same time, being very passionate about the service and product that you provide. In addition to some valuable business lessons that you’ll see play out in a number of settings, you will also get a feel for whether the life of running a business is something that you want to have. I can’t recommend immersing yourself in this show enough, and you will also get the side benefit of learning a whole lot about good food and fantastic new ways to use swear words.
That’s my best advice these days. That, and to be willing to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about whether or not the solo life really fits you. You do not want to become a effing solo practice nightmare.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
If you enjoy this blog, remember it has its own Amazon Wishlist and appreciates your generosity. 😉
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Lawyer and career and marketing consultant Cole Silver has put together an amazing collection of audio interviews with a who’s who of experts in all phases of law practice management as part of his Expert Audio Series.
It’s a collection of top experts interviewed about their best topics, with coverage of key aspects of business development and marketing, career planning and development, and organizational development and management. I’ve contributed an interview on “Technology that Drives Operational Efficiency.”
What is great about Cole’s collection is that I’ve heard many people (including me) with the idea (and best intentions) of putting together a collection of interviews like this, but Cole has actually done it. And done it extremely well. Even a cursory glance at what is already part of this collection will show you the potential value of this material to your practice. It’s a great example of what the audio/podcasting world is bringing and how an iPod (or other mp3 player) might be the best business and educational tech investment you can make these days.
Check out Cole’s Expert Audio Series.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming in March from ABA Publishing – The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together
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Lawyer and career and marketing consultant Cole Silver has put together an amazing collection of audio interviews with a who’s who of experts in all phases of law practice management as part of his Expert Audio Series.
It’s a collection of top experts interviewed about their best topics, with coverage of key aspects of business development and marketing, career planning and development, and organizational development and management. I’ve contributed an interview on “Technology that Drives Operational Efficiency.”
What is great about Cole’s collection is that I’ve heard many people (including me) with the idea (and best intentions) of putting together a collection of interviews like this, but Cole has actually done it. And done it extremely well. Even a cursory glance at what is already part of this collection will show you the potential value of this material to your practice. It’s a great example of what the audio/podcasting world is bringing and how an iPod (or other mp3 player) might be the best business and educational tech investment you can make these days.
Check out Cole’s Expert Audio Series.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Coming in March from ABA Publishing – The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together
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One of my side projects for the last year or so was being part of a Missouri Bar task force charged with bringing a legal research alternative as a member benefit to members of the Missouri Bar.
It was a productive and fun experience, and I’m proud to say that it resulted in both a great new member benefit and a President’s Award for the task force from the Missouri Bar.
We recommended FastCase as the service provider and the service launched last summer. More details here.
We had a follow-up conference call yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of usage the service is already getting, and the positive response it seems to be getting to this point.
It also reminded me to recommend that Missouri Bar members who read this blog and haven’t tried the FastCase service yet should definitely get out there and give it a try. You can’t beat the price.
It will be interesting to see the long-term impact of this program and others like it being adopted by other state bars on traditional legal research tools. Considered this recent development.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Get your legal technology information by audio. Check out The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast.
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Wow! There’s been a lot of conversation over the last few days on lawyer salaries, the legal job market, recruiting and retention issues. As much as I’d like to believe that my post “The Brand is the Talent” last week set off this discussion, in fact it was Amir Efrati’s The Dark Side of the Legal Job Market in the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog that kicked off the lively conversation. Bill Gratsch does a nice job of summarizing and linking to the some of the posts on this topic.
I also liked Rob Millard’s America’s Two Legal Professions, Gerry Riskin’s Sharp Pin Approaching Associate Starting Salary Balloon, and Michelle Golden’s Law Students Building a Better Profession (a great example from the LSBABP blog Michelle discusses is called High Billables & Attrition Take Their Toll on Summer Recruiting). It’s worth tracking down and reading the posts on this topic.
The posts also brought me back to Ron Baker’s Two Cheers for Gary Boomer post last weekend, which really got me thinking, in part because Ron touched on the role that technology and hourly billing play in professional services recruiting and retention.
My own view? I have a number of thoughts percolating and some of them will definitely appear in the quickly approaching webinar that I’m doing about the role technology can play in law firm recruiting and lawyer retention on Thursday, September 27.
As I’ve said, the role that the use of technology can play in recruiting seems to get all the attention, but the role technology can play in retention is the more important piece of the puzzle, not just starting salaries. There’s still time to register and some spots available for the webinar. If you are interested in these topics, I hope you’ll attend the webinar, but I also hope that you’ll read the posts I’ve mentioned and think about their implications.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Upcoming webinar: On September 27 at 12:00 Central, Aspen Knowledge will present Frank Gillman and Dennis Kennedy on “Winning the Battle for Legal Talent with Technology.” Information and registration information here. Please mention that you heard about the webinar on DennisKennedy.Blog.
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There’s a great interview with Matt Homann in the current issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine. Matt talks about many things: innovation, big thinking, his views on the practice of law, LexThink and his recent move to Xplane, the visual thinking company. The article also includes two sets of helpful tips from Matt for lawyers and their clients.
The money quote:

What’s driving innovation in law firms now?
MH: That’s a particularly difficult question to answer because the forces driving innovation in firms (if innovation is happening at all) are varied. In large firms, big clients have wised up and begun to demand businesslike efficiency, accountability and technology from their counsel of record. Midsize firms have recognized that innovation allows them to compete for previously unattainable clients and work.
For their part, small firms have always innovated out of necessity—and that’s never been more true than today. The lack of institutional friction inside a nimble small firm gives that firm a tremendous advantage in trying new things. What’s driving much of the innovation in small firms now, however, is that a much more educated and Internet-savvy clientele is not only expecting better service, better technology and better pricing, but is also not afraid to find a lawyer who will deliver it.

If you are in St. Louis this evening, I see that there are (as of now) a few openings left for Matt’s latest Idea Market event tonight. Check it out if you have the chance.
In any event, read the interview with Matt. But read it quickly, because, despite my suggestions to change this policy over the past few years, this article will disappear behind the magazine’s members’ only firewall and not be available over the Internet in a few weeks. That might be a good reminder to join the Law Practice Management Section and get the print version of the magazine (with a nice picture of Matt), but I’ve always preferred the open, always available on the Internet approach. We might see a change in that policy soon, but it hasn’t happened yet. Lots of other great articles in this issue too.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Upcoming webinar: On September 27 at 12:00 Central, Aspen Knowledge will present Frank Gillman and Dennis Kennedy on “Winning the Battle for Legal Talent with Technology.” Information and registration information here. Please mention that you heard about the webinar on DennisKennedy.Blog.
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A while back, I had a great conversation with Frank Gillman, Chief Technology Officer of Allen Matkins LLP, about the different ways that lawyers could use technology to attract and retain lawyers and other professionals. Our conclusion was that there were many underused and untapped opportunities – some quite simple and inexpensive – to use technology in these areas.
Fast forward a few months (and after starting associate salaries took another big bump up into the $150,000+ range at leading US law firms). Andrew Sandler at Aspen Knowledge called me about kicking off the Strategic Speakers Series that he was planning. He wanted to produce a series of video webinars that addressed legal technology with a strong business focus. His goal was to give law firm decision-makers information on ways to think strategically about technology in law firms and to place technology squarely within the business needs of a law firm.
That’s the approach I like best, and I also really enjoyed working with Andrew on a video webinar about best practices for technology committees last year.
I immediately suggested to Andrew that he try to get Frank to do a webinar with me on the topic of using technology for recruiting and retention so that we could extend our earlier discussion and share it with others.
I’m pleased to announce that on September 27 at 12:00 Central, Aspen Knowledge will present Frank Gillman and Dennis Kennedy on “Winning the Battle for Legal Talent with Technology.”
Here’s the program description:

The fight to retain and attract top legal talent is one of the most talked about topics in the legal industry and for good reason. The two most significant continual investments a firm makes are in legal recruiting and in technology. What many firms don’t realize is that technology itself can be a deciding factor in the recruiting wars. Our speakers will show your firm how to effectively connect these two factors to give you a competitive edge in this critical war.

You can get more information at Aspen Knowledge’s Knowledge Center and register here. Please mention that you heard about the webinar on my blog when you register.
Also, if you have topics you’d like Frank and I to address, specific questions, or, best of all, examples of ways your firm is using technology to recruit and retain law students, lawyers, and other professionals, please leave comment to this post or email me at denniskennedyblog @ gmail . com. I know that I’ll be mentioning some of the efforts Meredith Williams spoke about in our recent presentation at ILTA that Baker Donelson is using – if I worked at that firm and had regular access to those tools, it would be difficult for me to leave to a firm that did not offer the same tools.
This webinar will be especially valuable to hiring partners, members of technology committees, department chairs, managing partners, and executive directors of law firms in addition to lawyers and IT directors. It will also be a great way to check out the way that video can be used to present educational and other materials using Aspen Conferencing’s videoconferencing services.
Register for webinar.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Get your legal technology information by audio. Check out The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast.
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