Podcasting portraitI’m heading to Chicago for what I believe will officially be my “umpteenth” visit to the ABA TECHSHOW. It’s definitely the legal tech conference where I have the most fun.

In big news, after more than 230 podcast episodes of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Tom Mighell and I will record our first podcast while actually in the same physical space while at TECHSHOW. That should be both fun and a little different for us. I’m so used to sensing Tom roll his eyes at something I’ve said that it will be weird to see him roll his eyes in person. Our topic will be a meta-topic, the future of legal tech conferences, because . . . well, why not?

I’m looking forward to a great TECHSHOW experience and attending some of the related events around the show.

I’ll start with the new Women of Legal Tech Summit and also get to the Chicago Legal Tech Meetup and the Beer for Bloggers event on Friday evening.

I’m not speaking this year, so I’m looking to wander around the show (focusing primarily on the Academic Track this year), see the exhibit hall, and talk with as many people as I can. That’s how I maximize my learning.

As is my tradition, I’ve signed up to staff the Conference Concierge desk on Saturday morning and that’s a great way to meet me.

I’m also looking forward to helping Carla Reyes and a group of Michigan State LegalRnD students navigate TECHSHOW, learn about legal tech and network at the show.I’ll also help the Legal Talk Network with some interview podcasts. Let us know if you have an idea for an interview show.

And, of course, Tom and I will be happy to sign copies of the new edition of our collaborations tools and technologies book.

Hope to see you there. It looks like you can ping me if you want to try to meet, but I try to be approachable, so just walk up and say hello.

I’ll also be tweeting at @denniskennedy and the conference hashtag is #ABATECHSHOW (not yelling – it’s a naming/branding thing).


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

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Webinar registration information
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be presenting a webinar on one of my favorite topics – productizing legal services – on Thursday, March 7. It’s free and the registration details are here.

It’s the first of what I expect to be many collaborations with FoundationLab, a legal design studio doing cool things. You’ll be hearing more about that in the near future.

From the webinar description:

In this fast-paced and wide-ranging session, you will learn:

  • How products can be created from services
  • The benefits of productization, including diversification of revenue streams
  • Getting started with your productization efforts – an action plan
  • Keeping a client-centric focus
  • Jump starting productization ideas or supercharging existing efforts with design sprints

Mike Cappucci from FoundationLab will be joining me to talk a bit about what FoundationLab is doing in legal product design and implementation and ways to use design sprints to accelerate productization efforts.

Sadly, a comprehensive article I wrote on productization of legal services in 2014 has disappeared from the Internet, although it still ranks really, really high in Google search results. I’m working on ways to get that available, probably by republishing my archived draft as a new blog post. Don’t get me started on the topic of link rot and how embarrassing it can be for authors.

However, a condensed version of that article I wrote as one of my technology columns for the ABA Journal in 2014 is still available. It’s called “Making Legal Services a Subscription Product Can Make Sense.” Tom Mighell and I also devoted a podcast episode to this subject in 2014. It’s called “Turning Legal Services into Products.

I’m very happy to get to focus on this topic again in the upcoming webinar, especially since I’m working on a couple of my own services into products efforts. I hope you can join us on March 7.


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

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Now available:

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On February 15, 2003, I started this blog with a line from Babylon 5:


And so it begins . . .
I realized the other day that I had first written about blogs well over a year ago. In fact, the rise of blogs was one of my 2002 predictions for legal technology in my annual legal tech predictions article. As I was working on updating my web site (https://www.denniskennedy.com), I finally decided that I had to have my own blog. Thanks to people like Jerry Lawson, Sabrina Pacifici, the Support Forum at MovableType.org, it’s finally here.

For trivia buffs, I started the blog not so much to be a blogger, but because it was the easiest way to generate an RSS feed, which is what I cared the most about. I probably became a “blogger” very shortly after I started. It was a great world to be part of in those early days. Sixteen years later, my blog is still rolling along, thanks to so many generous readers.

It can be a little difficult being the parent of a teenage blog. The sixteenth was a little tricky. Not unexpectedly, my blog felt that a new car (not a used one) was the appropriate present. I think I was able to finesse this request by saying that if my blog found a car insurance company that would issue an auto policy for a blog, we’d consider it. So far, so good.

Because I don’t make a fuss about my own birthday (this blog was an early birthday present to me in 2003), I do make a fuss over the blog’s birthday. In fairness, the blog pushes me to do that. And there’s a blogiversary or blawgiversary post for each year. And I usually have offered a small gift to my readers. If you will patiently read to the bottom of this post, you will find a small token of appreciation.

TKMR LogoTom Mighell and I have a running joke that every year for the last few years, we say on our “new year’s tech resolutions” podcast episode each of us would list “reinvigorating my blog.” And we would really mean it this time.

I didn’t do that this year, but I was already starting to feel a positive change in my thinking and my approach to blogging. It’s so much easier to tweet and use other social media than it is to blog regularly. It’s math – much fewer words needed. At the same time, much of what I might have otherwise blogged about was going into our podcast, which, in many ways has become my favorite medium.

It became unclear to me what the blog would be an outlet for. The paradox is that I named this blog DennisKennedy.Blog because everything would be “on topic.”

It’s starting to come back. I’m seeing a path. My panel convergence post on February 13 is one example.

Some of the things that I mentioned in the post yesterday – the shocking disappearance of so many of my published articles due to linkrot and other factors not the least of them – have helped me see where the blog fits into what I want to be writing and what I’m doing.

So, let’s see what happens in 2019 at DennisKennedy.Blog. Thanks for reading over the years and thanks to new readers. Thanks especially to those who found this blog inspiration to start their own blogs. And thanks to all the bloggers who inspired me to get started and to keep it going.


If you use the code TECHTOOL19 on or before March 31, 2019 on the ABA Store, you will receive a 20% discount on the new edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Enjoy!

All the best to you all. And don’t tip my blog off about the car insurance thing.


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

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I’ve been rethinking my approach to publishing articles in publications. To my horror, I’ve seen links to hundreds of my old articles take people to “file not found” or other 404 pages. Other articles are now behind subscription or pay walls, or can be read only as you navigate through ad mazes.

Large audienceThat was never what I wanted. I don’t think any author would ever want that. I want as many readers as possible.

At best, in most cases I at least have my last draft that I submitted for publication still in my archive. The good news is that most of my articles don’t need much editing. The bad news is that these drafts are all I have to send people, including a recent potential client, as a copy of an article they can’t find instead of the working link I (and they) expected. I’m the one who looks like I don’t know what I’m doing when I send people to a dead link to my own article.

I dealt with this issue many years ago by posting drafts of missing articles as blog posts. I considered that possibility and, for now, have rejected it in favor of looking to the future.

typewriter typing "blog"I’ve also become frustrated by a publishing model that creates a big delay between when an article is finished and when it becomes available to an audience. I recently realized that an article I agreed to do with an end-of-February deadline will not appear until July. I’m now rethinking my approach to that article and keeping out ideas I want to get out into the world before July. The photo to the right made me think of how some publishers still think about blog content.

The long post/article I posed yesterday, “Outside Law Firm Panel Convergence – Innovation Driver or Innovation Destroyer?” is the first example of my new approach, which is actually a throwback to an old approach where I published to my blog first and publications requested the rights to reprint as an article in print or online.

For new articles that I write not done as a favor for an editor or under contract, I will publish first as a blog post. I call this #blogfirst. The post will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). People can use the post as they wish, only with attribution and only for non-commercial purposes as defined under the license. If someone wants to publish the post or a portion of it in their publication, they can contact me to discuss and we can reach mutually-agreeable terms.

Generally, after I post to my blog, I plan to post a somewhat-edited version (hoping my audience lets me know about typos, oversights, revisions, etc.) as an article on LinkedIn. For example, here is the LinkedIn version of the panel convergence article. Again, if someone wants to publish the post or a portion of it in their publication, they can contact me to discuss and we can reach mutually-agreeable terms.

This approach will keep the responsibility for the continuing presence on me (and sort of on Kevin O’Keefe at LexBlog, who hosts my site and in whom I have every confidence).

I believe this will be a very workable system for publishers who have wanted to use my articles in the past. If it adds extra steps or difficulties, the blame for that lies solely on your publisher colleagues, who seem to have forgotten that it is authors that provide the content that brings the audience that brings the dollars, and that authors deserve better treatment of their published articles than I’m currently seeing and experiencing.


Photos from Pexels.com

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

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Stories abound these days about general counsels wanting their outside law firms to help them with innovation and technology efforts. My own conversations indicate that the real wish goes a step further. General counsel want their outside firms to bring them measurable value with innovation and technology initiatives that align with their legal and, more importantly, business goals. Even a quick scan of a recent survey results from Thompson Hine will have you agreeing with their assessment that there is an “Innovation Gap.” Only 29% of participants said that their outside firms have brought them “significant” innovation.

Is it possible that an increasingly common practice in corporate law departments is a solution to achieving these innovation and technology goals?

Panel convergence (or, as I sometimes call it, panel consolidation) is now a popular approach in corporate law departments under pressure from CEOs and CFOs to gain control of legal spend. In some cases, making legal spend predictable and more certain can be more important than cost reduction, although fee discounting is commonly associated with panel convergence. The concept is a simple. A legal department puts out a request for proposals (“RFP”) for firms to pitch for a place on what will be a small and select list of approved outside law firms on the panel. Firms complete what tends to be a very long and complex questionnaire, firms are selected to present in person as part of a “beauty contest,” and finalists are selected.

Only the firms on the new panel list are eligible to receive work from the law department. Not making the panel will have drastic consequences for outside law firms. In most, if not all, cases, the convergence results in a dramatic reduction in the number of outside firms used by the law department.

I like to trace the notion of convergence back to quality pioneer W. Edwards Deming, who believed that by reducing the number of outside suppliers (he went so far as to suggest getting it down to one) and working with them to get aligned on business goals, you could achieve excellent business results. In the legal profession, the Dupont Legal Model and Jeff Carr’s ACES model are examples of this approach.

Some of the overarching goals of a panel convergence effort are:

  • “Rationalizing” and “right-sourcing” legal service providers (reducing number of firms and directing lawyers to the law firms (or, increasingly, alternative legal services providers) best suited for types of work).
  • Reducing or controlling costs, including discounts, flat fees, staffing changes, and alternative billing arrangements.
  • Creating long-term relationships with outside firms so they can understand the business and its goals and strategies.
  • Aligning outside firms with legal and business goals, objectives, strategies, and risk tolerance.
  • Maintaining consistent legal approaches.
  • Incentivizing outside firms to bring new ideas, innovation, and value to the client.
  • Addressing diversity and inclusion objectives.
  • Generating measurable value.

You can probably think of other goals as well.

The results of these efforts are mixed. Reducing the number of outside firms and achieving some kind of price discounting or cost control are probably the most common “wins.” However, my friends in the legal pricing world often say that the discounts tend to be smallish and law firms increase hourly rates to adjust for the discounting. Convergence efforts are difficult, time-consuming, and can raise all kinds of difficult issues, especially when longstanding outside firm relationships are put in jeopardy. The work on the finalization of the panel can be so difficult that the ongoing follow-up work of pursuing all the benefits of convergence is neglected. I talked to an in-house counsel who said that her law department hadn’t updated the firms on the approved panel in fifteen years.

Other common benefits that seem to take effect are enforcement of entering into specific engagement letters, staffing directives, timing of invoicing, e-billing, and participating in outside counsel management systems.

However, the goals of business alignment, value generation, and innovation often get lost in the process, in spite of the fact that many outside panel RFPs specifically address these issues. Just like firms often answer that they do literally every type of legal work, law departments often let firms get away with saying that they are “great on innovation too.”

I want to look at how panel convergence can, perhaps paradoxically, act as an innovation destroyer if not properly tended, how panel convergence should, if you follow good, often commonsense practices, act as an innovation driver, and suggest some practical action steps for you to consider.

Innovation Destroyer?

First, an observation, perhaps controversial. Panel convergence efforts do not achieve as much as they could because corporate legal departments do not appreciate the power that they have in what is now a buyers’ market. In simplest terms, outside firms under competitive pressure to stay on a panel or gain access to a panel are more willing to negotiate than you might expect. It is a huge benefit for a firm to get on a panel. If a firm is not on a panel, it is often extraordinarily difficult to get the firm added at a later point. If #BigLaw firms will not move enough for corporate law departments, many perfectly capable mid-market regional firms will do so. This buyers’ market observation applies especially to innovation.

There are three points where panel convergence efforts can damage or destroy innovation goals:

  1. RFP creation and solicitation of proposals;
  2. RFP and innovation pitch evaluation; and
  3. Maintenance and review of convergence effort.


In too many cases, panel convergence RFPs for outside firms run into the hundreds of pages. Even the section on innovation or technology can be lengthy, not on point, and cobbled together from multiple sources. In the worst case, a law department might abdicate responsibility for the RFP language to the procurement or sourcing department. I’m not sure that inhouse counsel needs to know much more at the RFP response stage than (1) what are examples of what a firm actually has done and are currently working on, (2) what would the firm plan to do specifically for the law department, (3) what people and infrastructure does the firm have for delivering innovation projects, and (4) what data demonstrates the firm’s level of commitment to innovation? If I have answers to those questions, I can probably make a decision about whether a firm passes the initial screen.

When you have lots of detailed RFP questions, you drastically reduce the chance that evaluators, especially lawyers, will read all of them. It’s a simple case of mathematics, especially when lawyers are “voluntold” that they are on the panel convergence project. You also increase the chance that the questions will be too vague, confusing, and even inapplicable. In other words, they might make things cloudier rather than clearer than a simple and direct approach. If you don’t feel comfortable with your RFP questions on innovation or whether they are working for you, you might want to get an outside second opinion. Similarly, a firm competing for a panel spot might consider the innovative approach of providing the answers to the four questions in the preceding paragraph as an executive summary or infographic.

A second factor in the RFP process is sending the RFP to the right firms and obtaining a large enough sample, especially when the lawyers involved in the process will be advocating for few proposals to evaluate. If innovation is a goal, you should start with Dan Linna’s Law Firm Innovation Index. Look to firms presenting at innovation conferences, firms that have Chief Innovation Officers, or other indicators of commitment to legal innovation.

RFP and Pitch Evaluations

I see RFP evaluation as a screening process to determine who gets to make a pitch, much like resume evaluation determines who gets an interview. The actual pitch is what gives you the information you need to make a decision.

The process can go very wrong in both places.

The biggest danger at both points is simply taking outside firms at their word. I have no doubt that every single law firm will tell you not only that they are great at innovation, but their future plans on innovation are amazing. Your task is to cut through the fog and obtain data and evidence that you can evaluate and use to make good decisions, or, at the very least, “good enough for now” decisions.

Another danger is trying to make a final decision on the basis of the response to the RFP. RFP responses should only be used to screen for firms you want to make a pitch, which means, firms you want to hear more details from. That is the job you are doing at the RFP evaluation stage.

In RFP evaluations, you might want to get an outside opinion to help you make the screen on innovation. The odds of any evaluator reading the innovation section in each of 50 several-hundred-page RFP responses are not good. That’s not a criticism – it’s a recognition of reality.

If innovation is a goal of your panel convergence effort, you will want not just examples, but you will want to meet the innovation team. It is reasonable and prudent to request that the firm’s Chief Innovation Officer or head of innovation take 10 – 15 minutes of a pitch presentation. Again, depending on your comfort level, this might be a place where you want to get an outside second opinion. You will ultimately make the final decision, but sometimes it’s good to have someone interpret and validate what you are hearing.

And, lest you forget, you will only get the innovation and technology proposals you ask for.

Follow-up and Maintenance

The panel is announced with great fanfare. Committee members are congratulated and get awards and bonuses – maybe. Victory is declared and the convergence team disbands.

Wrong. This is when the real work to make the effort a success begins.

There are many best practices you can find: single points of contact, initial meeting of panel firms, annual summits, introduction of outside counsel management systems, standardizing, and streamlining processes, engagement letters, discounts or flat fee implementation, and the like.

What about in the area of innovation?

Not so much, at this point. And that’s why the panel convergence approach can damage or destroy innovation. It’s the follow-up and maintenance that matter.

Let me use a bit of a gardening analogy to describe my approach to implementing successful convergence efforts. First, we need the gardeners – people who are responsible on an ongoing basis for the work and the results. We need to prepare the soil to give the project the best start and continuing growth. We need to plant enough seeds – more than we think – to improve the chances of harvest. Watering and nourishing, of course. Eliminating weeds and pests. Pruning to focus and enhance our results. Knowing what to harvest and what to throw away. And preparing for the next season. You get the idea. I’m confident that you don’t need me to explain the metaphors.

It’s hard work that requires constant attention. It’s easy to see how these programs can actually destroy innovation.

Too often, the innovation piece of convergence is vague or afterthought. Innovation can get orphaned, with no person or group tasked with supervising the efforts. Once firms are locked into panels, an “incumbency inertia” can take hold, especially if there is an attitude of being “too busy” with “real legal work.” By the way, it’s vital to screen that attitude out in the selection process if you can. If there is a standard, it becomes what the other panel firms are doing, which can be a reverse incentive. It’s easy for all kinds of incentives to get reversed and misaligned. As time goes on, diversity of ideas and innovation are decreased, because there is a limited universe of firms.

No one would be surprised to find that innovation efforts drop off the cliff after the first year the panel is selected. Concrete and specific plans, follow-up, and roadmaps must be put into place or you will see “drift.” Far too often, no evaluations, measures, metrics, key performance indicators, goals, or objectives are put into place. There might even be confusion at the basic level of what the firm charges for innovation work or whether it should be charged for at all. Are there systems for tracking efforts and results or giving feedback? Should you be using a formal counsel evaluation tool like Qualmet? Is there even an intake or workflow tool for innovation projects? Annual meetings with demos and showcases should be required.

There are two final big problems I want to mention. And they are very big.

The first happens when a law department doesn’t ask for the innovation efforts or tech recommendations to be made, even if they were part of the winning pitch. The flip of that, of course, is that the firm doesn’t pursue these efforts or take the initiative. And we are back to the gardener analogy and a single point of contact approach.

Second, and most important, there are no consequences for failure to provide the innovation work. Think back, for a moment, to the earlier story about a firm that had not changed a panel in fifteen years. What possible incentive could there be for those panel firms to change or take initiatives? In my legal career, the biggest surprise has been the unwillingness for corporate clients to fire outside firms that are not producing as promised. In this area, I’d be tempted to give the outside firms, as a first innovation project, designing a project workflow system with metrics, standards, and agreed-upon consequences built into it. And then I would challenge you to hold them to it.

Simply put, if you cannot weed out firms that aren’t delivering, you really don’t have much of a chance of overall success. Your panel convergence process will become a place where innovation goes to die. It’s a buyers’ market out there and there are alternatives, including alternative legal service providers.


I like to focus on what is possible and what can be done. Here’s my radical, but probably not surprising, proposition: properly done, panel convergence can drive your innovation efforts forward, align business goals, enhance collaboration, and achieve innovation wins and meaningful “return on innovation” with measurable value.

There’s a technique in design thinking referred to as “reversal” or “inversion.” What happens if we flip over our assumptions, change the end user, look through the opposite end of the telescope, and, well, you get the idea.

In simplest terms, if you reverse any of the points in the previous section, you start to move down the path to drive innovation efforts forward. Try it out as a thought experiment. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Oh, wait. I do have an even more radical idea. Outside firms should consider providing innovation services for free and part of their offering to be on the panel.

Here are twelve ways that you might consider using your panel convergence project to drive innovation from your panel firms.

  1. Use the panel to make it easy for outside firms learning the company’s business, business goals, and how the law department fits into the business. Encourage them to get an understanding of key problems, constraints, budgets, and objectives. The best innovation will be customer-centered innovation. Everything starts here. How will you make that happen?
  2. Make outside counsel put some skin in the game. Jeff Carr’s ACES approach of putting part of agreed-upon fees at risk if business results and value are not achieved is one example, but how might you incentivize the behaviors you want? It might be as simple as putting firms into red, yellow, or green status on innovation, with penalties for lack of effort or staying in the red or yellow category.
  3. Share how outside firms made their own technology decisions, their experiences, and their recommendations. General counsel want to move to new technologies, but typically don’t have the resources to investigate and make those decisions. There are benefits to having firms and clients on the same platforms, especially on collaboration tools. This “want” is often expressed on the in-house side, but rarely acted on by outside counsel.
  4. Start with staffing and workflow innovations, with an eye on cost savings, efficiencies, and “right sourcing” (getting the work into the hands of the right person at the right skill level and price). Legal departments are concerned about paying huge hourly rates for “commodity” work. Would using a litigation support project platform like ClariLegal generate cost savings and free up lawyer time?
  5. Track and monitor projects. Helping address those problem areas will achieve real-world benefits and open doors to future innovation projects. Build on small, measurable successes.
  6. Prune the panel list. You cannot freeze the panel for fifteen years. There should be an easy process for adding and dropping panel firms to reflect goals (e.g. diversity), movement (e.g., key lawyer or group moves to new firm), change (law firm mergers), business strategy (move into new markets or product lines), and the like. It is not a great place for an in-house counsel to be when they have to use old-line panel firms to handle blockchain or other new technology issues. A regular in-depth review should also be scheduled with promises tracked and consequences exacted. There is a huge benefit to firms to stay on a panel list and many firms, especially mid-market firms, would be happy to make better offers.
  7. Create measurements and metrics. Innovation is not some airy, vague set of new ideas. Innovation should produce practical results. With a panel, you can collaborate with firms to agree on appropriate metrics and how to track them.
  8. Share goals and objectives. Aligning the law department’s goals and objectives to innovation efforts is a powerful to set direction and strategy. If the law department knows the business problems its business owners want to solve, and the outside law firms are aligned to solving those problems, the results can be very good for everyone. Innovation should be focused like a laser on the client’s problems. Innovation is fundamentally a client-centered exercise. If the word “value” is not at the top of your discussion list with outside firms, you should be asking yourself why it isn’t.
  9. Connect the people. I like the idea of having “single points or contact” for innovation efforts, with each firm. Consider at least monthly calls, quarterly design thinking or brainstorming events, and annual “summits” where all of the innovation contacts meet and share ideas and goals.
  10. Thoughtfully implement standard innovation practices that fit your culture. Proof of concept and other experiments. Design sprints and minimum viable product approaches. A portfolio of approaches. Collecting stories to share. Identifying the right talent. Building on successes. In certain cases, does a firm or law department want to start its own innovation lab or outsource the use of an innovation lab or design group? What outside help do you need and what work should stay as part of your core competence?
  11. Put into place a system of communication, collaboration, and incentives. What happens if we turn a great idea into a product? How do we make this organic and self-sustaining? How do we measure early-stage benefits?
  12. Focus on the “Why?” first. A common principle in innovation is answer the “Why?” first, then move to “What?” and, only then move to the “How?” I don’t mention technology much in this article, because it will be part of the “how.” Your focus should be on first things first.

Isn’t all of this way more exciting than getting a 15% discount on standard hourly rates?


I want to end with a bunch of practical action steps. Here are some for you to consider:

  • Make a firm decision that you want to want to use panel convergence to drive innovation in legal services. Start with the “Why?” If you get that question answered, your path becomes so much easier to see.
  • Take a breath and take a bit of time to reflect on whether your panel convergence process is matching your most important goals and objectives and whether it is addressing your problem areas.
  • Review your panel convergence RFP, especially on innovation and technology, and simplify, simplify, simplify. What do you want to know that matters? Ask only that.
  • Require an outside firm’s Chief Innovation Officer or innovation team to present as part of the pitch presentation. That is who you will be working with on actual projects.
  • Develop a framework and approach to evaluating RFP responses and pitches. Get data and evidence.
  • Request (or volunteer) to participate in design sprints, innovation labs, or productization efforts with panel firms. Offer your problems and issues as experiments for the firm to work on. There’s no harm in asking if participation comes with no charge. Firms need plenty of client feedback on their own efforts.
  • Find ways to get outside firms to put skin in the game. Be creative and see what else is happening in the industry, and in other professions.
  • Measure activity and create a simple set of metrics and key performance indicators to track. Then act upon them and track your results.
  • Be constantly on the lookout for internal resources who would be happy to participate in innovation efforts. Results will be mixed, at best, if you assign unwilling lawyers to participate.
  • See innovation as a process of experimentation – some things will work and some will not – and learning.
  • When in doubt, give people logoed T-shirts. We are all humans, after all.

For outside firms, or those who want to be on panels, use the reversal or inversion method on the practical action steps above and you’ll see your own list.


I’ve become intrigued how an often clunky existing process with mixed results – panel convergence – can, if properly handled, be turned into an engine to drive innovation. Having vision is important, as is being willing to make hard decisions and do experiments. Panel incumbency should not mean entitlement and tenure. There are many firms, with mid-market firms being especially interesting because of motivation and nimbleness, who are able and willing to step up on innovation efforts to provide measurable value for key clients. Lack of action has consequences. The legal market says that it is ready to innovate. Let’s see firms and law departments prove it.

– Dennis Kennedy


I look forward to discussions this post might start. I’m making it available to share under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License. If you want to publish this post or a portion of it as an article, I’m happy to talk about it and reach mutually-acceptable terms.

Photo from Pexels


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

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

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Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

From time to time, I’m involved in discussions or see discussions about how to teach technology, practice management, and innovation as part of the law school curriculum. I’m now teaching a class called “Delivering Legal Services” as part of the LegalRnD program at Michigan State University College of Law. Last fall, I taught a class called “Entrepreneurial Lawyering” last fall.

I’ve always wanted to share the syllabi for the classes I teach. I hadn’t been able to come up with a good way to do that.

Fortunately, John Mayer had a great idea and he has executed on it. He is gathering and posting syllabi for these kinds of subjects on a great resource called “The Syllabi Commons.”

The syllabi for both of my classes are now posted on the Syllabi Commons.

Whether you are looking for a good way to learn on your own, or you are teaching a course of this kind, The Syllabi Commons is the best place to start.

I’ve had more people than I ever expected tell me that I should turn my classes (or, realistically, a much shorter version) into online courses. I want to get some feedback on that and have created a survey here. Would online courses of this type interest you and be of enough value that you would consider paying a reasonable price for the course? Here’s the survey.

Thank you for your feedback.


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

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People regularly ask me what “legal technology” or “legal tech” means when I use the terms and tell them it is something I’ve focused on for many years. In my class in Entrepreneurial Lawyering last fall in Michigan State’s LegalRnD program, I realized that “legal technology” was a term I took for granted and it was, in fact, something I needed to define and explain to my students.

Based on some ideas I picked up from Chrissie Lightfoot, a few ideas of my own, a little creativity, a little commonsense, and an infatuation with quadrant charts, I came up with the following chart for my students:

Image of Quadrant Chart

I’m now ready to unleash it on an unsuspecting and unprepared world for feedback and, I hope, improvement. I think it works as a pedagogical tool. I don’t think it quite works yet as a classic quadrant chart – I’ve never quite figured out what the Y-axis should be and I’m not sure plotting points for tools within the chart would actually work.

To me, that means the chart is ready for feedback and the wisdom of the crowd.

I’ve decided to post the chart here. Please comment or email me if you have thoughts, questions or suggestions. I’ll put it out under a Creative Commons CC BY license to make it super easy for people to use.

Tom Mighell and I have also recorded an episode on The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast in which we talk about the chart and definitions of “legal technology” or “legal tech” or “law tech”in some detail. That episode should be posted on Friday, January 18, 2019. I’ll add a a link when it’s available. It might be helpful to listen to the show and the explanations there before making suggestions. Or not.

I’m curious to see if people find this helpful or useful. If you think there’s already something better, I’d love to know that and maybe switch to that.

Also, this version is really a first and rough draft. I know that from font choices to other design and spacing, there is work to be done before I would consider it “final.” If you have strong feelings about design and are good at it and want to take a stab at an improved design, let me know and we’ll see how we might work on that.


Until March 31, 2019, I have a special discount code (20% off) for any readers who want to purchase the new edition of The Lawyers Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies. I have it on good authority that it makes a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift. Simply go to the ordering page for the book at
https://www.americanbar.org/products/inv/book/312056356/ and use the code TECHTOOL19 at checkout.


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

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

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

Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

The American Bar Association, for many years, has surveyed lawyers about their use of technology. The 2018 results are now available. The full results are available for purchase here.

The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (fondly acronymized as “LTRC”) has been publishing summaries of key findings from the survey as TECHREPORTS, which are available at no charge. The TECHREPORTS for the 2018 survey may be found here.

I wanted to highlight the Cloud Computing TECHREPORT, in part because I wrote it, but in larger part because the security results are very worrisome and troubling to me.

Here’s the money quote:

Confidentiality, security, data control and ownership, ethics, vendor reputation and longevity, and other concerns weigh heavily on the minds of lawyers, yet the employment of precautionary security measures is quite low, with no more than 38.1% of respondents actually taking any one of the specific standard cautionary security measures listed in the 2018 Survey question on the topic. 10.7%, an increase from 9% in 2017, reported taking no security precautions of the types listed. Only 40.7% of respondents report that adoption of cloud computing resulted in changes to internal technology or security policies.

I conclude the Cloud Computing TECHREPOORT with:

Reported growth in cloud use stayed relatively flat in 2018. However, the continuing lack of actual attention to confidentiality, security, and due diligence issues remains a serious concern, especially with the growth in mobile apps running on cloud services. The results on security procedures will continue to fuel client concerns about security efforts by their outside law firms.

There is much that law firm IT departments and technology committees, legal technology vendors and consultants, corporate law departments, clients, and all legal professionals interested in the adoption of technology by lawyers can learn from these results. They give us much to think about and some indications where firms might want to move their technology strategies in the coming year and beyond. Applying basic common sense, diligence, and increased attention to security efforts might be the biggest lesson to learn for the upcoming year. In short, cloud cybersecurity must be on your technology plan for 2019.

The survey findings on cloud computing will be of special interest to cloud vendors, law firm clients, and law firms making strategic technology and innovation plans. Although, as I note in the TECHREPORT, some of the results indicate a probably lack of understanding about the cloud and cloud usage by some respondents, you will find the trends over the last few years quite revealing about the legal industry.

As always, I’m happy to hear your feedback on the Cloud Computing TECHREPORT, highly recommend all of the TECHREPORTS to you, and encourage you let the LTRC know if you have suggestions for improving the survey questions and the TECHREPORTS.


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

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

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Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

For quite a few years, I’ve enjoyed reading the posts of several bloggers who are trying to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I’ve also wanted to find a good way for me to keep track of the books I’ve read. And it gives me a good reading target to shoot for.

Last year, I read 115 books, exceeding my goal by quite a bit. Or, more accurately, I listed 115 books that I read. I don’t list books that might reveal certain things I might (or might not) be working on. You will also notice tat I’ve been attempting to read the entire catalog of books of certain authors of detective stories. If 2018, those were Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone) and Peter Robinson (Inspector Banks).

If you forced me to pick a top 10 for 2018 (or ten recommendations for books you might read), I’d probably list:

Autonomous, Annalee Newitz
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz
Build an A Team, Whitney Johnson
Portfolio Life, David Corbett
The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber
For All the Tea in China, Sarah Rose
Gridiron Genius, Mike Lombardi
Creative Strategy, William Duggan
Building a Story Brand, Donald Miller
The Dan Sullivan Question, Dan Sullivan

Continue Reading 52 Books in 52 Weeks – 2019

A quick look back at 2018.

A big move to Ann Arbor, Michigan after taking early retirement from Mastercard.

Being convinced by my wife and daughter to take what they like to call a gap year. Or maybe a gap year or so, essentially leading to a “portfolio” phase of my career.

Not that I haven’t done a few things.

Tom Mighell and I published the new edition of our book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, and were thrilled with the excellent reviews and comments we received.

Speaking of Tom, he and I completed another year of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network. We’re up to episode 227, and started back in 2006. We had some of our best shows ever this year. Check out the podcast!

Tom and I also got one of our all-too-rare opportunities to present together. We spoke about the under appreciated area of cybersecurity and collaboration tools at the College of Law Practice Management’s Futures Conference.

I hosted a live video interview show from the ABA TECHSHOW and, although I phased back on speaking in 2018, got the chance to speak in Charlottetown, PEI for the Canadian Federation of Law Societies about future legal tech trends and AI, about corporate law departments as business enablers at Northwestern, and about legal innovation at the SOLID West conference.

I’m now an adjunct law professor in Michigan State University’s LegalRnD program. I had a great class this Fall on Entrepreneurial Lawyering. The students did an outstanding job and were accepting of my tendency to experiment. My syllabus for class is up on the Syllabi Commons. I’ll be teaching a class called “Delivering Legal Services” this spring.TimeSolv and ClariLegal

I also enjoyed getting the chance to do some advising for TimeSolv and ClariLegal, both doing very cool things, in my opinion. I’m likely to do more of that in the future.A big thank you to my new neighbor, Cash Butler of ClariLegal, for introducing me to Ann Arbor and for many great conversations.

I didn’t do a lot of writing this year – I always need time to wind down after finishing a book – but I did participate regularly in the Law Technology Today’s monthly roundtable series. I also completed my three-year term as chair of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center board. I’m quite pleased with what we were able to accomplish, especially the Women of Legal Technology recognition program.

And much more – some good travel, family time, Steve Earle and Melissa Etheridge concerts, seeing friends, and just getting to rest after a long, hard stretch of working. Didn’t realize how tired I had gotten.

I’m also really happy to have gotten some time to think, read, learn, and put together ideas and and plans for 2019. Watch this space.

A special thank you to my wife for both encouraging and tolerating me in this phase of my work.

All best for 2019 to all.


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

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

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

Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.