Blockchain technology is a topic that interests me greatly. It also is a favorite topic of my occasional co-author, Gwynne Monahan (often better known as @econwriter5 on Twitter). We have talked off and on for a while about collaborating on an article about blockchain tech.

The timing was right a month or two ago when I was asked about writing an article for the January tech-themed article of the ABA’s Law Practice Today.

Continue Reading Lawyers Get Ready, There’s a Blockchain Coming

Blockchain technology is a topic that interests me greatly. It also is a favorite topic of my occasional co-author, Gwynne Monahan (often better known as @econwriter5 on Twitter). We have talked off and on for a while about collaborating on an article about blockchain tech.

The timing was right a month or two ago when I was asked about writing an article for the January tech-themed article of the ABA’s Law Practice Today.

Continue Reading Lawyers Get Ready, There’s a Blockchain Coming

Dennis Kennedy photographed on December 19, 2010.Last summer, I was asked the question “Are there really too many lawyers?” I wrote a reply and remembered the other day that I never posted it.

Unlike when you write something for a print publication and might have to wait months for an article to appear, the great benefit of having your own blog is that you can publish it to the world immediately – assuming that you remember to do so.

In the spirit of clearing out 2015 to get a fresh start in 2016, here’s my answer, at least last summer (because I haven’t edited it), to the question “Are there really too many lawyers?”

Are there really too many lawyers?

The science fiction writer William Gibson (@greatdismal) his the source of the well-known quote, “The future has arrived – it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” That’s a good framework to consider the “too many lawyers” question.

That question suggests that the primary issue is one of quantity and the Goldilocksian test of too much, too little or just right. However, that approach misses the most interesting and important facets of the question – distribution, allocation and, ultimately, adaptability of lawyers and the legal profession.

There are a lot of lawyers in the US – a whole lot of them – and many more enter the profession every year. Lawyers also have a tendency not to retire, at least not at an age like 65. The total number inexorably grows.

At the same time, we all see stats that perhaps 80% of people (and probably small businesses) can’t afford or find the lawyers to perform the legal services they need. There are areas like public defenders, judges and certain practice areas where there is a strong feeling that there simply aren’t enough lawyers. In my own world of information technology law, I would say that there is a severe shortage of lawyers knowledgeable in the practice area, which expands and grows more complex almost daily, or so it seems.

Perhaps paradoxically, we also live at a time where it is very difficult for lawyers to get tradition law firm jobs. Some would argue that we’ve had a few “lost years” where only a very small fraction of law school graduates got traditional law opportunities.

What I see is not a “quantity” issue, but an imbalance of supply and demand. In other words, the future of legal services might already be here, but it’s not evenly distributed yet. There is a mismatch of client need and lawyer availability, all aggravated by technology change (think Internet), geographic mobility (general population but not lawyer regulation) and, increasingly, globalization.

The “too many lawyers” question, to me, opens up the issues of legal service distribution and allocation of legal resources and alignment with the changing needs of an increasingly mobile, global and savvy client population with difficult and novel legal issues.

In so many ways, the practice of law has never been so interesting as it is today, with opportunities for creative approaches, futuristic technology tools, and ways to play a key role in the accelerating pace of change we see today.

However, too often today lawyers bemoan the “decline of the profession,” want to pull up the drawbridges and fill up the moats, and try to go back in time to some “mythical good times.”

We live in a world where commerce routes around “friction.” Lawyers have too often allowed themselves to be seen as part of the friction rather than the enablers of new approaches. The path of the Internet is littered with those who felt that what they did was so unique that the Internet would not be able to route around them.

The successful lawyers of the near future will be those who can better distribute and make available their services to the clients who need them. The successful firms will be the ones best able to identify, hire, retain and allocate lawyers to client needs. It’s not rocket science, but it requires a clear-eyed look at the present and the future and a willingness to look to new models rather than return to old structures. At least in my opinion.

The key is adaptability. Can lawyers adapt to changing times? It is reasonable to expect drastic changes on a regular basis within traditional practice areas. It is reasonable to expect clients to change, evolve and disappear. Lawyers must be adaptable to an accelerating pace of change.

Too many lawyers? I don’t know if there’s a magic number. I do know that the number of lawyers is not well distributed from the client perspective. Too many lawyers with adaptability? Not by a long shot. And, unfortunately for many lawyers who hesitate on adapting, the future is already here.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (Second Edition), the new book from Allison Shields and me, is now available (iBook version also available). Our previous book, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers, is also available (iBook version here). Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

I developed a new presentation on technology competence and legal ethics for the recent Missouri Bar Lex Port 2015 conference.

Lex Port Start Slide

I took a new and practical approach and wrote the following as part of the handout materials. It largely reflects the direction I took in the presentation.

Let me know what you think of this approach.

Timely Technology Competence Tips for the Non-Technological Lawyer

The Key Text. Continue Reading Timely Technology Competence Tips for the Non-Technological Lawyer

Tom Mighell and I have had an especially good run of episodes recently on The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast. I especially want to recommend the most recent one “Are Lawyers Ready for Artificial Intelligence?Podcasting portrait

I had been seeing a lot of blog posts, articles, tweets and other mentions of AI, IBM Watson, machine learning and the like. I wanted to talk about it on the podcast. I had to convince Tom that we had something to add to the conversation. As usual, he did’t think he’d have much to say. And, as usual, when he says that, we have some of our longer episodes.

In a way, it was a perfect topic. I like topics where I can push Tom to react to some of my wildest ideas and we both start to see practical opportunities. This episode will also be known by us as the one where I left Tom speechless with one of my ideas.

There’s some interesting stuff in this podcast and I encourage you to listen to it and to subscribe to the podcast.

Here’s the show summary:

“Artificial Intelligence is a means of designing a system that can perceive its environment and take actions that will maximize its success.” -Tom Mighell

Developments in Big Data, machine learning, IBM Watson, and other advancements in technology have brought back the cyclical discussion of what artificial intelligence might mean for lawyers. Has anything really changed, or have we just reached another round of the AI debate?

In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell analyze recent discussions about artificial intelligence and lawyers, try to separate myth from reality, and ponder whether AI can take over the work of lawyers. Together, they discuss the definition of AI, robotics, Technology Assisted Review, driverless cars, document assembly software, LegalZoom and how lawyers are assisted or threatened by these technologies. Dennis points out that lawyers are often worried about computer system mistakes but comfortable with the lower success rate of humans. Tom aptly explains that comfort in certain technologies stems from psychological acceptance.

In the second half of the podcast, Dennis and Tom revisit traveling with technology. As Dennis was just in Europe, and Tom is headed there soon, they talk about wireless routers, mobile wifi, headphones, phone chargers, backpacks, and the other various technology necessities to bring on your vacation. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends.

In the “B segment” of our next episode, which will be released soon, Tom and I revisited the topic of AI and Tom challenged me to come up with practical examples of the ways lawyers might use AI. I think even Tom will (grudgingly) admit that I won that challenge. Be sure to tune in to that episode.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (Second Edition), the new book from Allison Shields and me, is now available (iBook version also available). Our previous book, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers, is also available (iBook version here). Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be inducted as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, joining a group full of people I have long admired and gotten the opportunity to speak, write and work with over the years.COLPM Induction 2 - 10730193_10152796951291407_5441207644036415288_n

Even better, I got to attend the 2014 Futures Conference held at Suffolk University School of Law. Suffolk could not have been a better host and the program – a combination of TED-type talks and brainstorming sessions leading to a “Shark Tank” competition was quite fun, giving both the opportunity to learn and the chance to meet and collaborate with many other attendees. My thanks to everyone involved with the conference.

Tom Mighell and I devoted a recent episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast – “The College of Law Practice Management’s 2014 Futures Conference” – to our reflections on the conference and I recommend it for your listening.

Deborah McMurray, on the Law Firm 4.0 Blog, has posted notes from the sessions and speakers and a great list of links to posts about the conference from other attendees.

The Futures Conference is an annual event. I recommend that you keep it on your radar as a place you might want to be in 2015.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (Second Edition), the new book from Allison Shields and me, is now available (iBook version also available). Our previous book, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers, is also available (iBook version here). Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be inducted as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, joining a group full of people I have long admired and gotten the opportunity to speak, write and work with over the years.COLPM Induction 2 - 10730193_10152796951291407_5441207644036415288_n

Even better, I got to attend the 2014 Futures Conference held at Suffolk University School of Law. Suffolk could not have been a better host and the program – a combination of TED-type talks and brainstorming sessions leading to a “Shark Tank” competition was quite fun, giving both the opportunity to learn and the chance to meet and collaborate with many other attendees. My thanks to everyone involved with the conference.

Tom Mighell and I devoted a recent episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast – “The College of Law Practice Management’s 2014 Futures Conference” – to our reflections on the conference and I recommend it for your listening.

Deborah McMurray, on the Law Firm 4.0 Blog, has posted notes from the sessions and speakers and a great list of links to posts about the conference from other attendees.

The Futures Conference is an annual event. I recommend that you keep it on your radar as a place you might want to be in 2015.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (Second Edition), the new book from Allison Shields and me, is now available (iBook version also available). Our previous book, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers, is also available (iBook version here). Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

Here’s a great conference for anyone interested in marketing a law firm or a law practice. The ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference 2011 will take place on November 8 & 9 in Philadelphia.

The Conference is called titled “Reputation, Referrals, Rankings,” and has a great agenda of timely topics, including:

Tuesday, November 8

  • Keynote #1: Lie to Me! “Emotion Management” of Your Marketing Will Invite Trust, Not Contempt
  • ROI: Examining the Return on Investment for Business Development Spending
  • The Business of You – Surviving and Thriving in Big Law
  • Luncheon: Effects of Rankings & Ratings on the Legal Profession
  • An Ethics Guide to Lawyer Marketing
  • The Power of Video in Lawyer Marketing
  • Golden Gavel Awards Ceremony and Reception

Wednesday, November 9

  • Keynote #2: “In Search of…Lawyers” How the Internet Has Changed Everything
  • Social Media: Does Your Firm Marketing Plan Need A Face Lift? (I’ll be Joining Tom Mighell and Tim Stanley on this panel)
  • Associate Business Development Training
  • Luncheon: 10×10 – 10 Topics, 10 Presenters, 10 Minutes Each. (It’s like speed dating, but better)

The best news is that there is still time to register and some seats still available. It’d be great to see you there.

For more information, see the conference website here (conference brochure).

Also, there’s also still time to register for the replay on November 3 of the very popular LinkeIn for Lawyers webinar Allison Shields, Michelle Golden and I presented in August. Details are available on the ALI-ABA website.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

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The American Bar Association’s Law Student Division is holding what looks to be a great conference this Saturday at the St. Louis University School of Law. I got the chance to volunteer to speak – and I couldn’t resist. In these difficult economic times, I feel it’s important to do what I can to help law students. People helped me while I was in law school, and it’s always been important for me to do what I can.

Details on the event are here. It looks like registration is closed, but I’d guess they might be able to find a place for for you if ask.

The sessions look really good and address important issues for law students.

I’ll be part of a panel on practical networking in the afternoon. I see this as a Q & A session. I want to cover both social networking and regular networking. I’ll also be part of a lunch session called “Lunch with Experience” where I’ll share my observations about legal careers and answer questions.

It sounds like fun for me and I expect to learn a lot in addition to sharing some of what I know and have observed over my legal career. If you read this blog and are there, introduce yourself and say hello.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

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I did a presentation called “The Freemium Practice of Law” at IgniteLaw 2011 last Sunday night, produced by my good friends Matt Homann and JoAnna Forshee.

IgniteLaw takes a unique approach to presentations – 12 presenters each presenting for 6 minutes using only 20 slides apiece. And the slides advance automatically every 18 seconds.

It’s a challenging format for any speaker, no matter how experienced, especially if it doesn’t fit your usual style. Perhaps I understate that. It’s the speaking equivalent of riding in a top fuel dragster.

I found the presentation fun – in a challenging sort of way – but quickly struggled with time management. I got my points made, but not quite in the way I had hoped. My main points seemed to get across and I hope I was able to contribute in a small way to what was a fun evening with lots of high-quality presentations.

The videos will be posted soon, but I thought it might be fun to post the final version of the “rehearsal script” I had written. On that evening, the “script” turned out to be more ambitious than I’d hoped it would be (especially since I couldn’t refer to it), but I really liked the way this version of the script read. See what you think.

The Freemium Practice of Law – Rehearsal Script

1. Several years ago, when I was in the private practice of law, I had a meeting with a potential new client, a technology start-up. Things went well and they wanted to hire me. The initial project would be preparing terms of use and a privacy policy for their website.

2. I gave them an estimate and the president of the company joked that lawyers probably all used the same base documents and just changed the company names. Or at least we created documents with one push of a button. We laughed, although I felt the need to mention that even standard documents had nuances.

3. I thought a lot about that client’s view of legal work, especially documents, and the question kept coming back to me: “If clients assume we can use technology in this way and, technically, we can, why aren’t we”? I first implemented document assembly more than 20 years ago, so the issue is less technology than business model.

4. One of my favorite innovation techniques is to reverse my assumptions. I recently listened to a podcast with William Ury, co-author of a great book on negotiation. He said, “to change the game, you must change the frame.”

5. Here was my reversal. What if standard documents actually were provided to clients for free, perhaps as part of a service package? How would that work? I didn’t get very far myself, but Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson wrote a book in 2009 called “Free” that looked at the growing Internet phenomenon of successful businesses based on giving away what would traditionally be core products and services for free, and then making money in a variety of other ways.

6. Anderson’s book tells about Monty Python deciding not to sue the thousands of people who started to put video clips from their shows and movies on YouTube. Instead, Monty Python created its own YouTube channel and made high-quality video clips available for free. In exchange, they simply asked people to consider buying their products. The result: a 23,000% increase in DVD sales in 3 months, even though they were giving the same video content away.

7. That’s Freemium. Make something available for free, use that to extend your reach and audience, and then provide options for people to willingly pay for enhanced value. My definition of freemium tonight would be: Giving away “something” in order to create educated customers who better understand how to use your services and products in ways that better help themselves and for which they will happily pay to do so.

8. There’s been a lot of discussion about Richard Susskind’s custom vs. commoditized approach and you’ll be hearing more about that in the next few days at TECHSHOW. The most interesting thing about freemium, at least to me, is not so much that it will work in both contexts, but that I think it can work extremely well in the custom context.

9. Another example. Open Source software and Larry Lessig’s Creative Commons licenses. The free “something” is the software or the standardized license. The Open Source model, where the software itself is available for free, but a company like Red Hat can be quite successful selling maintenance, support, consulting services, and even T-shirts around the software, is perhaps the best example of the freemium approach.

10. Stewart Brand famously said, “Information wants to be free.” We clearly live in a world where we expect to get digital versions of music, video, books and information for free. How do lawyers fit into that world?

11. My favorite new band is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They let people post recordings of their live shows on the Internet. I doubt that I would have bought any CDs or even known of them if not for this approach. Now, I buy albums and would attend a show in a heartbeat. Bands can now be thought of as music services providers, giving away what we once thought of as core content and value – the music – to create revenue from shows, merchandise and other channels.

12. Now think about a “legal services provider” model. Law is certainly an information business. Are we like music? Encyclopedias? Newspapers? Other fields challenged by Internet models, aging business approaches and innovative competitors? Change the frame, change the game.

13. Lawyers often will say that clients buy documents or hours – a lawyer-centric view. When I did estate planning, I concluded that, at heart, clients were really buying peace of mind – assurance that their family would be taken care of after they were gone. In other practice areas, they might also be buying things like judgment or risk management – something they’d happily pay more for than a document or a unit of time.

14. That is the big disconnect between lawyers and clients and where the opportunity for freemium law practice comes into play. Change the frame, change the game.

15. Some ideas. Start with Anderson’s book. It has plenty of ideas that might Anderson has a lot of freemium ideas in his book that could apply to the practice of law. Here’s one of mine to start you thinking – moving from highlights to insights to personalized. Highlights: a free annual summary of important cases prepared by an associate. Insights: an audio or video where partners explaining why the cases matter. Personalized: Half-day customized presentations where your best people show a client’s legal and executive team how to address those new cases.

16. Barriers. Oh, there are a few. Not done before. It’s change. How do we bill? Bar regulation still applying a 20th century framework to 21st century client needs. Don’t underestimate – these will be difficult frames to change, but freemium is for innovators who like challenges.

17. It strikes me that simple technology can drive this. Document assembly has been around for years. Second graders are making videos these days. So much can be delivered easily via the Internet for free.

18. Where do you get ideas other than buying Matt Homann a cup of coffee? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Bryan Cave’s Trade Zone extranet application as a model. Other professional services firms, authors and consultants have successful models. Talk to young people, see what’s going on outside the US, and get a diversity of opinions.

19. Let me emphasize that I’m not for a second advocating a wholesale freemium approach. However, I do think that economic survival for the long term depends on taking a diversified portfolio approach. Using free to create enhanced-value freemium revenue streams should be one part of your portfolio.

20. 3 action steps for you:

1. Read Chris Anderson’s book. Even better, go to iTunes and get the audio version for free, and see if you go ahead and buy the book.

2. Carve out 30 minutes with a piece of paper and brainstorm ways you might try free and freemium, starting with places where you already heavily discount or write-off fees.

3. Change your frame and see if it changes your game

IgniteLaw 2011 was fun, fast-paced and informative. I congratulate Matt, JoAnna, all the other presenters and everyone else involved for putting on such a great event. And it was especially great to meet some other Grace Potter and the Nocturnals fans.

I’m hoping to post some reflections on TECHSHOW 2011 soon.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools