The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column in its May 2011 issue. The column is titled “Declutter Home Hard Drives and Aid Performance.” The column covers some simple ways you can declutter, clean up and organize your hard drives. I do focus on your home computer(s), but similar principles will apply in the work setting.

Here’s the inspiration behind the column. I got a new personal computer for 2011 (MacBook Air) and needed to load data and files onto the new computer. That process got me thinking about whether there were some good ways to keep drives organized and to get them in good order after, seemingly inevitably, they get cluttered and wildly disorganized.

As I say in the column, “While it’s tempting just to buy a bigger drive or rely on desktop search tools or the enhanced search tools in recent versions of Windows and Mac OS X, these approaches are only short-term fixes.”

Although I couldnít resist the chance to work the buzzphrase “data hygiene” into the column, I decided to focus on a few basic principles and techniques – pruning, decluttering and organizing.

In pruning and decluttering, you look to eliminate duplicated and unneeded files and stop your computer from automatically creating and saving excessive numbers of files to free up space. After pruning and decluttering, you take a closer look at your approach to folders and try to simplify your approach.

Just some nuts-and-bolts concepts, but if you are moving data to a new computer, you’ll appreciate the making some efforts in these directions. Even if you are not moving to a new computer, you’ll appreciate having a cleaner, better-organized file structure.

Check out the article here.

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

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The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column. It’s called “MacGyver Your Software: Necessity Reveals Useful Tools You Never Knew Your Software Had.” It covers some ways you can cleverly make use of the standard programs you have to do some things that you thought only programs you don’t have could do.

As I say in the column,

I have noticed that many lawyers who make innovative use of technology in their practices take advantage of program features not commonly used by others. Often, this results from the lack of budget or permission to install new programs. Necessity becomes the mother of invention.

Those of you famility with TV history (and who isn’t?) will get the reference to MacGyver, who could also make some amazing new use out of seemingly random materials at hand to escape from difficult situations.

Many lawyers with limited technology tools have felt like a MacGyver trying to cobble together software and hardware to accomplish something that technology they didn’t have would easily do.

The premise of this column is to take a look at ways you can use common tools for quite different purposes, not just give you some tips to use existing programs better.

Some examples include using your word processor as a metadata scrubber or blog publishing tool, presentation programs as a graphics editor or audio/video editor and Adobe Acrobe for a wide variety of purposes.

The idea is to get you to think in new ways and not to throw your hands up in despair because your firm won’t let you get tools you need. There are other options.

The money quote from the column:

Now is a great time to explore the unused features in software you already have. If you unleash your inner MacGyver, do some exploring and are willing to be creative, you are likely to find a much bigger and better-stocked toolbox than you ever imagined.

Check out the article here.

[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

Announcing The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast Listener Appreciation Meetup / Tweetup

There’s nothing like a blogger meetup.

I read a great blog post wrap-up about the BlogHer Food conference by my grade school and high school classmate, and now food blogger, “The Italian Dish.” The post reminded me how much fun it is when bloggers get together. And, believe it or not, that’s true even when it’s lawyer bloggers getting together.

So, I wanted to see about doing a meetup, tweetup or similar event. And I saw an opportunity to put together one next week in Washington, DC at the time of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section’s Fall Meeting (October 20 – 22). It’s actually a great time to be in DC because there are two other interesting law practice management and social media seminars happening at the same time as the LPM Section meeting. The first is the College of Law Practice Management’s 2010 Futures Conference and Symposium (PDF brochure). The second is MyLegal.com’s “The Case for Social Media” seminar (info here). For clarification, I won’t be speaking at or attending either event (duty calls). There should be a good concentration of interesting people for a meetup in DC.

As I tried to figure out a way to do a meetup, who to invite and how to organize, I settled on the idea of doing it nominally as a listener appreciation event for The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast.

I emailed Tom Mighell to enlist his help and he really liked the idea, too. He liked it even better when I agreed (1) not to anthromorphize our podcast, as I sometimes do, and say that our podcast was actually throwing this event, (2) to do the “planning” for the event, and (3) to write this email to publicize the meetup.

Here’s my plan: We tell you the time and place and assume that the event will be a gathering of the right people at the right place at the right time. In other words, I’m taking an unconference approach to this.

Here are the details:

Date: October 22, 2010 (Friday)
Time: Officially, maybe 7:00-ish PM, but really whenever two or more people show up.

Place: Lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC (looks like there’s lobby seating and a lounge) – this is the meeting hotel for the ABA LPM meeting.

Who is invited:

1. Listeners (and potential listeners) to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast
2. Law-related bloggers (and non-law-related bloggers)
3. Law-related tweeters (and non-law-related tweeters)
4. People interested in law practice management, legal technology and the use of social media by the legal profession
5. Any reader of this blog post (of course)

If you want to help organize and publicize, please get in touch with Tom or me. We’ll also be putting up an invite page (probably Twtvite) for the event. Watch @denniskennedy or @tommighell on Twitter for details.

[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

The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column. It’s called “Bite the Bullet Point” and deals with the growing problem of poor use of PowerPoint slides that drains all of the energy out of many presentations I see today, especially those by lawyers.

As I say in the column, “The biggest problem I see is that people have moved the focus from the speech and the speaker to the slides.”

Or, as I also say: “[M]ost complaints about PowerPoint are like blaming modern hammers for poorly built houses. It’s not the tool, but how the user uses the tool.”

Everywhere I turn lately, I see references to “death by PowerPoint” and similar harsh critiques of the use of technology in presentations today. There’s no question that most “standard” presentations these days bury you in bullet points and boredom. Worse yet, after seeing all the slides and hearing the talk, you often don’t know what the main conclusion is, what should matter to you, and, most important, what you should do next.

If you’ve read this blog or my articles, including my ABA Journal column, over the years, you’ll notice that focusing on using technologies as appropriate tools is a recurring theme of mine. As tempting as it might be to want the “new shiny thing,” you’ll want to always keep in mind that technology is a tool and you should always keep in mind the ways a new technology can help you do what you actually want to accomplish.

Think about the oft-cited example that vendors want to sell you a drill, but what you want to buy is the holes you need to get the job accomplished. The drill is just the vehicle that gets you to the holes.

That’s the background for the new column – my concern that the focus for presentations has turned to slides, PowerPoint (or Keynote), video, audio, design and transitions, and away from educating, persuading and inspiring.

However, I’ll stress that I’m not a PowerPoint opponent. When it’s used correctly, it can definitely help you educate, persuade and inspire. If you don’t think that’s the case, you haven’t seen someone use PowerPoint really well in service of their message.

In the new column:

I run through a list of some of the things that bother me about how many people use PowerPoint in presentations these days. I’ll note that it’s a 650-word column, so I couldn’t fit everything in there, but you’ll get the idea.

More important, I give six of my best suggestions to help you break out of today’s PowerPoint and presentation traps:

1. Ask the question: Are slides even needed?

2. Remember that slides must serve the presentation, and not vice versa.

3. Keep the focus on the presenter and presentation, not the slides.

4. Don’t make slides do double duty. A huge problem I often see is using the same slides for the presentation and the handout.

5. Details matter. At a minimum, view your slides on the screen from the back of the room before you speak. I hate it when the speaker knows a slide can’t be read and apologizes out loud for it. Fix it; don’t apologize.

6. Find new role models. I’m a huge fan of Cliff Atkinson and his influential book on presentations called Beyond Bullet Points. His approach to slides is very visual, with minimal text and no bullets. He emphasizes the importance of theme, structure and story. Spend some time watching TED Talks videos and videos of other great presenters.

I’d definitely like to hear your reactions to this article and to the topic. I actually wrote it several months ago and when I re-read it, it really seemed to reflect the theme of practical and effective use of technology to help you with what you do everyday that’s been my goal with the ABA Journal tech column over the years. Let me know if the column works that way for you.

If I would have had a few more words for the column, I might have added a seventh point about hard work and rehearsal (although it’s alluded to in the column). As I mentioned earlier, I’m not anti-PowerPoint. In fact, I’ve always liked it. What I like, though, is the way it makes some aspects of preparing a presentation easier and frees you up to spend more time and effort on your message, your delivery and your audience. As they say, you can work smarter, not harder, and focus your effort on what matters most.

Check out the article here.

[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

I wanted to point you to a webinar on Thursday (September 16) from the ABA Law Practice Management Section and the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education called “Managing Your Online Presence.”

The webinar features as speakers two of the best subject matter experts you can find, Jim Calloway and Kevin O’Keefe. I’ll be part of the webinar as moderator of the session. Jim and Kevin have told me that they expect me to be an “active moderator” and to throw in my insights on the topics, even though my plan is mainly to try to make sure the audience gets the best of Jim’s and Kevin’s impressive experience and expertise. That said, you’ll probably get to hear some of my tips and commentary on this topic.

I can assure you that you can expect to learn a lot from this presentation.

Here’s the program description:

More and more clients “meet” you online before even deciding to meet you face-to-face. In this fast-paced session, you’ll learn the best ways to build and grow a sustainable online presence, enabling more potential clients to find you and existing clients to access more helpful information provided by you. Topics covered will include: 1. Choosing (and using) a blog or Web site as your online “home base;” 2. Utilizing social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with clients and build your professional footprint; 3. Magnifying your online presence by distributing your existing content seamlessly to multiple places online and 4. Monitoring and managing your online reputation. Your existing clients will be more informed, and your prospective clients will be more impressed.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, September 16 at 1:00 PM-2:30 PM Eastern (12:00 PM-1:30 PM Central; 11:00 AM-12:30 PM Mountain; 10:00 AM-11:30 AM Pacific).

Registration and other details may be found here.

There’s a nice discount for ABA Law Practice Management Section members. Even better, there’s a nice discount for ABA members who join the LPM Section in connection with this webinar – definitely a win-win proposition. And there’s a great discount for law students.

Hope to “see” you at the webinar. As moderator, if you want to send me a question ahead of time, please do so.

[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

I wanted to point you to what should be a great webinar on Thursday (August 19) from the ABA Law Practice Management Section and the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education called “Creating Your Online Presence.”

The webinar features as speakers the noted experts Tom Mighell and Dave Bilinsky. I’ll be part of the webinar as moderator of the session. I’ve seen the slides already and can tell you that you can expect to learn a lot from this presentation.

Here’s the program description:

In this digital era, clients and prospects expect lawyers to be savvy about their firm’s Web presence. Learn from our experts how to create an effective online presence that works for your practice, your clients and your target audience. Determine which options are wise, based upon your areas of practice, geographical location and your “online personality.” Adding your firm to online directories/legal directories such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Avvo, RocketLawyer and Justia will be discussed. Our speakers will also discuss how to setup a blog and whether this is a helpful service to your clients or prospective clients. The pros and cons of using free or lawyer-specific blogging platforms will be part of this discussion. You will walk away from this session with the ability to take the social media plunge, having seen practical examples of how to setup your own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Take the plunge!

The webinar will take place on Thursday, August 19 at 1:00 PM-2:30 PM Eastern (12:00 PM-1:30 PM Central; 11:00 AM-12:30 PM Mountain; 10:00 AM-11:30 AM Pacific).

Registration and other details may be found here.

There’s a nice discount for ABA Law Practice Management Section members. Even better, there’s a nice discount for ABA members who join the LPM Section in connection with this webinar – definitely a win-win proposition.

Hope to “see” you at the webinar. As moderator, if you want to send me a question ahead of time, please do so.

[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

The ABA Journal has published my latest monthly legal technology column. It’s called “Power Panels” and deals with one of my favorite legal technology topics, law firm technology committees.

I’ve been part of or assisted with a number of law firm technology committees over the years. I’ve also been impressed by how hard lawyers on technology committees work to evaluate options, balance the needs of competing constituencies, and attempt to make good strategic and tactical decisions.

Law firm tech committees do all of this without much in the way of reference materials and support groups. In fact, if you get appointed to your firm’s tech committee, you will quickly notice that there is not much guidance out there.

Unfortunately, if you do a Google search on law firm technologies committees today, you’ll actually find a a very promisely-sounding webinar that I did that is no longer available. I still get the occasional inquiry about that seminar. Maybe I’ll see if I can post the handout or slides for that seminar in a future post.

In the weak moments when I think about writing another book, I think that that book would be a handbook for lawyers on technology committees. Then I come to my senses.

As a technology topic topic, law firm tech committees are a topic of vital importance to, well, members of tech committees, especially the new-appointed. To the rest of lawyers, not so much. I’ve noticed that my recent ABA Journal columns have started to draw a fair number of comments. In the case of this new column on tech committees – none. You are more than welcome to make a comment after you read the article just to make me feel noticed.

To the new column:

The idea here was to put together a basic primer and give a set of my five favorite simple and practical tips for law firm tech committees.

I discuss how every firm large or small actually has a formal or informal “tech committee” that makes decisions. It would be rare that only one person makes key tech decisions in isolation. I also point out the several roles tech committees play.

My five tips:

1. Diversify membership.

2. Enhance IT relationships.

3. Set a simple strategy.

4. Monitor return on investment.

5. Consider outside help.

If you are a lawyer interested in technology, being part of your firm’s tech committee can be rewarding, help the firm and give you a practical outlet for your tech interest. It’s also the best way to have significant input on the technology you will use.

I’d definitely like to hear your reactions to this article and to the topic.

Check out the article here.

If there’s interest, I might dig up some of my writings about tech committees and post them onthis blog or as a PDF.

[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