Summer is the time for reading and I wanted to share a chapter of Tom Mighell and I’s book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together.

I chose the hot topic of cybersecurity in collaboration tools, an area of risk that is still underestimated by many lawyers and law firms, and one that can bring unwanted exposure to their clients and others who work with them. Tom and I have presented on this topic and it’s one of favorite topics to present. To give you a flavor for our approach, with plenty of insights and practical tips, listen to our podcast episode, “Collaborating with Cybersecurity in Mind.”

Our reading today is from chapter 30 of the book:

Ethics, Security, and Other Practical Issues

Collaboration tools take lawyers into uncharted waters in many ways. In this chapter, we discuss some of the issues that collaboration tools raise in areas of particular concern to lawyers: ethics, confidentiality, and privilege in the practice of law. Even ten years on from the first edition of this book, lawyers are still relative newcomers to using collaboration tools, so we will attempt to reason from analogies with practices and examples that already exist. If bar regulators can understand collaboration tools as evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes and as extensions of processes lawyers already use and know well, they may decide that new types of regulation are not necessary. However, if bar regulators treat these tools as presenting completely new issues requiring completely different approaches, we all could be in for a wild ride.

Lawyers have not yet systematically addressed the ethical and related issues raised by the use of email, the Internet, data storage, and computer technology in general. ABA Formal Opinion 99-413, which states that unencrypted email between lawyer and client does not lose its confidential nature, has been accepted as approving the nonuse of encryption for routine email. However, Formal Opinion 477, issued in 2017, recognizes that some circumstances do warrant the use of “particularly strong protective measures,” including encryption. Because Formal Opinion 477 is not limited to email but to all lawyer communications, lawyers would be well-advised to review it prior to implementing any type of technology, including the collaboration tools we mention in this book.

Unfortunately, if you search through the applicable ethical rules and comments you will not find any references to Slack, service-level agreements, cloud computing, or strong passwords. Although ethics opinions have started to address technology outsourcing, cloud services, and collaboration tools like Google Docs and Office 365, technology continues to change at a rapid pace while ethics opinions lag behind. As a result, when dealing with the ethical issues involved with collaboration tools, you should work from a clear understanding of basic legal ethics principles, take reasonable steps, monitor developments, and look to the technology itself for answers.

In the past, ethical questions involving the use of technology tended to arise and be addressed in the context of marketing, especially on the Internet. Lately, attention is being paid to the area of electronic discovery, particularly the use of metadata. We have also seen activity, largely driven by malpractice insurance carriers and state bar practice management advisors, in the areas of conflict checking, case management, and billing and accounting. Collaboration tools, especially those found online, can raise similar questions. We have seen some ethical guidance on social media and metadata, but not a lot of clarity.

In this chapter, we want to discuss other areas where collaboration tools inevitably will have a large impact: confidentiality, lawyer-client privilege, and what it means to represent a client in the Internet era. Collaboration tools raise difficult issues, but they also often contain the means to address them. If reasonable practices and procedures will be the solution to these problems, how can we start to determine what is reasonable?

Confidentiality and Security

Confidences are easy to keep when few people have access to the information. They are easy to manage when they exist within a physical document that can be locked away in a safe deposit box. Once information is stored in digital form, it becomes easy to copy and move, and much more difficult to secure, especially when it is stored on or accessible via the Internet.

A 2012 amendment to Model Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality of Information) in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct makes it explicit that attorneys must make reasonable efforts to protect against inadvertent disclosure and unauthorized access to information relating to clients. Amendments to the comments provide for a risk based analysis for confidentiality in attorneys’ use of technology and electronic communications.

It’s a fact that the game today is drastically different from when we dealt only with paper. We are not likely to go backward. If you use collaboration technologies in your practice, especially tools that potentially expose your data to outside parties by means of the Internet, you must consider the impact on your ethical obligations of confidentiality. At the same time, this obligation must be interpreted within the context of the real world of computer security.

Over the years, terms like hacking, cracking, and phishing have entered our lexicon, along with social engineering, spoofing, and identity theft. Microsoft and other software vendors routinely release patches for security flaws that would permit someone to access and control a computer. Ransomware, keystroke loggers, Trojan horses, and other malware create a perilous environment for any computer connected to the Internet, even with appropriate protection. Outsiders can access unsecure wireless networks, and packet sniffers, password crackers, and hacking toolkits comprise the arsenal of today’s wrongdoer, increasingly a professional data thief, mysterious government actor, or someone involved in organized crime. Computer security is an ongoing chore and a never-ending battle.

Security is the technology analogue of confidentiality. To be successful and ensure your collaboration tool gets used, the security around the tool must involve a balancing between protection and convenience. To protect something perfectly will all but guarantee that it will be inaccessible and unusable to the collaborator. Consider cartoons where characters lock the door and throw away the key. If your collaboration tools are behind that door, they aren’t of much use to you. On the other hand, maximizing user convenience and access (no passwords or other barriers) effectively will eliminate any protection of the data. Security, and therefore confidentiality, requires finding the right balance.

Security requires a multifaceted approach. Authentication (including multi-factor authentication), authorization, encryption, and other security technologies all play a key role. You also will need to augment these security features with procedures and processes designed to maintain security, which would include not only firm-based procedures but also address the personal dimension of security: strong passwords, user training, and good practices.

As we discussed in Chapter 17, the security of most collaboration tools combines some level of authentication and authorization. You need to be certain the person using the tool is actually the person with permission to do so; this is the authentication component, with usernames and passwords its primary tools. Once someone is authenticated, their access and rights must be limited to only those areas to which they are actually allowed. Users are walled off from data they do not have permission to see, and they are not allowed to access, copy, or change data for which they have no permission. That is where authorization comes into play. It is usually handled by setting network permissions, designating user rights, and placing certain users into groups with defined roles.

Identity management combines authentication and authorization into one seamless process. Once the system verifies your identity, your rights adjust automatically as you move within a tool or from one tool to another. Because lawyers and others work on many different matters and may have different roles in each of those matters, identity management can invisibly tailor a user’s experience so they can access and work on all of their matters, without requiring multiple logins or other annoying procedures. These security measures will help you manage confidential information, maintain ethical boundaries, and log and track access to materials.

It is also important to ensure your online activities are secure. The most common standard for securing a website involves the use of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS). You’ll know you’re visiting a site with SSL/TLS when the URL starts with an https:// rather than an http://. Sites with SSL/TLS security should be a requirement for your online collaboration tools, whether you host them or use someone else’s service. Online collaboration tools also often use encryption during transmittal of data. As use of collaboration tools increases, expect all forms of encryption to become more common, including the use of digital certificates.

Finally, your security scenario should have an emphasis on strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. Because longer, complex passwords are harder to crack, a strong password consists of combinations of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols (for example, b5@2057*JMS). The longer your password the better. The current advice is to use long passphrases that you can remember or use a password manager to generate long random passwords. Some online tools show you the strength of your password when you register, and encourage you to create stronger passwords. Your organization can also enhance security by enforcing strong password requirements. Some organizations use randomly generated passwords created by a fob or token—a small hardware device that is synchronized with a network’s password on a minute-by-minute basis. This approach is a good illustration of multi-factor authentication. That means a combination of something you know (password), something you have (fob or smartphone), or something you are (fingerprint, retina scan, voiceprint, or face identification).

Biometric forms of “passwords,” like fingerprint or even retina scanners, might also come into wider use, partly because of people’s tendency to use weak passwords. Each year, security companies conduct surveys that show that the most commonly used password is something like “123456,” “password,” or “password1,” which only reinforces the need for greater security measures. Some authentication will use location or past behaviors as an additional layer of authentication.


Some feel the attorney-client privilege is under attack in the United States. That view may be open for debate, but it is fair to say that the privilege seems to be shrinking and its limits are harder to discern. Use of collaboration tools may only add to the confusion regarding the scope of the attorney-client privilege, but such tools do have the potential to help.

Collaboration tools allow lawyers to tag or label privileged material and protect it electronically, limiting access, tracking use, and providing ways to validate that the material was properly handled. For example, on a litigation extranet, privileged material can be segregated to a certain area of the site, with access tightly controlled. Comments, labels, tags, and access mechanisms can all help in identifying and working with this material.

A related issue is the inadvertent waiver of privilege. Lawyers’ use of technology is fraught with danger and risk, and not just in the area of collaboration tools. Consultants and vendors increasingly have unrestricted access to our computer systems. Further, various types of IT services, hosting, and even license agreements may contain provisions allowing third-party access to data, which can raise privilege and confidentiality issues. Lawyers must pay close attention to these agreements and adequately address any specific concerns they may have.

Other Practical Issues to Watch For
As lawyers use hosted collaboration services more and more often, they will need to keep a watchful eye on potential security issues that arise in the cloud or other hosted environments. Security, disaster recovery, backup, archiving, and redundancy are among the big concerns. Other important issues include loss of data, support levels, response times, warranties, limits on liability, error handling, uptime, and bandwidth requirements. In addition, if you experience problems with your online tools, you will want to have clearly defined escalation procedures, termination and other exit strategies, and requirements for the safe return of your documents and data in a timely manner. You’ll also want to formulate procedures for easing transition to a replacement provider if moving to a new service becomes necessary. Software licenses and hosting agreements in the IT industry are notoriously one-sided in favor of vendors, so you cannot expect the “standard contract” to be adequate. It’s important to note that many of the same issues arise when lawyers host tools on their own computers.

Further, because some online collaboration tools, especially social media, offer a communications channel to non-clients, you run the risk that communications to these individuals may run afoul of your state’s advertising and solicitation rules. These rules might affect what you can say online and whether you need to retain your online materials, apply for preapproval, or comply with other rules that typically apply to advertising or communications directed to non-clients on the Internet.

We’ve only looked at the tip of the iceberg on practical security issues that might arise when developing a collaboration strategy. Many other questions remain. How do electronic discovery rules apply to documents stored in collaboration tools? Will you be obligated to produce materials held in document repositories? How will the question about handling metadata be resolved? What are a lawyer’s obligations for maintaining data in online tools after the project or matter is completed? What happens when vendors offering hosted sites go out of business or lose data? Who is responsible if payments for online services are not made, and the service is suspended?

You’ll also have to deal with maintenance and supervision issues whether you host your collaboration tools internally or use a third-party provider. Who sets and manages user access and permissions? How are updates handled? Who fixes broken links? How long are you required to keep a collaboration site active after the project or matter is completed? And what if clients or lawyers switch firms—how do you transfer the data in your tools to them? We expect the answers to these questions will develop in the coming years.

Last but certainly not least, we must now consider Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 (Competence) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which twenty-eight states have adopted as of this writing. It states:

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. [emphasis added]

Our book is an argument that collaboration tools are indeed a relevant technology, and that lawyers who use collaboration tools in their practice have an obligation to understand both the risks and benefits of using such technologies.

All of these practical issues are manageable, especially if you think about them and plan for them in advance. Your best approach is to treat collaboration tools as something you will be using over the long haul and to start addressing these issues from the outset. You will also need to monitor developments constantly and watch for advice from malpractice carriers as well as opinions and rule changes from bar regulators. With careful planning, you’ll be able to navigate the uncharted waters of collaboration tools with greater confidence.


Want to learn more about collaboration tools and technologies in the legal industry? The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together covers the whole waterfront of ways these tools can help you.

Want to learn more about security in collaboration tools? Tom Mighell and I have presented on this topic and it’s one of our favorite topics. For a preview of how we treat the topic and plenty of tips and insights, listen to our podcast “Collaborating with Cybersecurity in Mind.”


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

Also, see LinkedIn showcase page for Dennis Kennedy’s books.

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.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined the advisory board of ClariLegal. ClariLegal is an award-winning, cloud-based preferred vendor management platform that improves business outcomes while reducing overall litigation support and ediscovery costs. ClariLegal matches corporate law departments and law firms with preferred vendors through a fast and complete RFP and bidding process, benefitting all parties involved in the process. ClariLegal is privately held and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I’ve been helping Cash Butler and his team on an advisory basis for a while now and am excited that we have made the arrangement more public and more formal. The ClariLegal platform has the chance to dramatically reduce and rationalize litigation spending, especially for commodity litigation services, and to accelerate and simplify the RFP process. Very exciting stuff and a great team.

As you may know, ClariLegal is the third legaltech company for which I’m serving on an advisory board. The other two are FoundationLab and TimeSolv.

Would I consider serving on other advisory boards for legaltech companies (or others)?

In the right situation for the right opportunity with the right company.

I like the current mix. ClariLegal is a platform service, which is my favorite approach. FoundationLab is in the design and service productization area, another favorite approach. TimeSolv is in the fascinating area of moving lawyers into the cloud in core areas (and providing some useful extras) and away from old legacy software (e.g., TimeSlips). In many ways, that’s where the rubber meets the road in legaltech. All three companies have great teams and are very innovative in their spaces – a good match for me.

I’m always happy to hear pitches about joining additional advisory boards, but I’m going to be very selective.

Cover photo from issueThe new issue of Legal Business World features me in two articles on topics I’ve been focused on lately – value in legal services and whether the panel convergence process for outside law firms that hasd become popular can, in fact, be used as an innovation driver for both law departments and law firms.

And I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited about my picture being on the cover of the issue.

The issue leads off with my article, “Outside Law Firm Panel Convergence: Innovation Driver or Innovation Destroyer?” You might have read an earlier version of the article here. The article is both a challenge to law departments and law firms to walk the walk and not just talk the talk on innovation, and a guide to using the panel convergence process to drive innovation efforts. The article has been very well-received and I’m designing some service offerings to help firms and departments implement some of my recommendations.

Also in the issue is an interview with me by James Johnson (thank you, James) as part of the ClariLegal Value Series. I get the chance to talk about my insights and perspectives on what “value” in legal services means to me. I mention the large disconnect between what law firms think corporate counsel want and what corporate counsel (and their business clients) really want. Bridging that gap will be the key to success. I end the interview with my usual comment, “There is value in value.”

The rest of the issue is filled with great material, too.

Thank you to Joek Peters and Allard Winterink at Legal Business World for including me and to Cash Butler for inviting me to be part of the Value Series (which has many other great interviews).

[Link to issue]


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

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.

A big thank to Rob Ameerum at Legal IT Today for making me part of their LegalTech Legends interview series in the June 2019 issue. I feel quite honored to be included, especially in a global publication.

The interview gave me the chance to to reflect on my experiences and insights into technology and the practice of law over the past many year and to talk about a few topics that I don’t often get the chance to discuss.

You can read the interview by downloading a PDF of the current issue of Legal IT Today.

The issue my interview is in focuses on cybersecurity, arguably the most important day-to-day tech topic for the legal profession.



[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.


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.

Microphone photoFrom time to time, I like to post a set of links to recent Kennedy-Mighell Report podcasts and to podcast interviews I’ve done. It’s that time again.

Let me start with a recent very fun and wide-ranging interview I did for Lora Cheadle and her Flaunt! podcast. The episode is titled “Technology, the Legal Profession and What That Means for You.”

From the episode description:

As a former lawyer, I like to think of the law as the invisible rules that hold our society together. Everything we do, from marriage, to children, to jobs, to driving, to buying a home or renting an apartment is governed by some sort of law. And whether or not we are aware of what those laws say or require, we are still impacted by them every day.

Similar to the way the internet has brought us access to more medical information than ever before, so too has it increased our access to legal information. This impacts the consumer, but it also impacts the lawyers. Now, more than ever, lawyers must embrace technology so they can serve their clients in the most effective, efficient manner. And if they can’t, then another lawyer certainly will!

Fortunately there are lawyers such as Dennis Kennedy out there who are leading the charge.

You will find the episode here.

It’s been great recently to keep running into listeners of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast. We started the podcast in 2006 and it’s always nice to meet listeners who like what we are doing. We also love getting questions from listeners about legal technology that we can use in the show. We even have a voicemail number for you to leave your questions (anything is fair game) for us – (720) 441-6820. Or, as Tom might say “(720) 441-6820, again, that’s (720) 441-6820.”

We’ve just completed the first half of 2019. Here’s the list:

The Essential Summer Reading List: Best Beach Reads for Lawyers

Summer reading lists, how reading is changing, how that affects the reader’s experience (i.e. digital, audio, or paper).

Deep Fakes: Preparing Lawyers to Combat Counterfeits

Fake photos, fake video, and fake audio – how the deep fake phenomenon impacts the practice of law.

Taking Back Control: Managing Your Tech Addiction the Smart Way

Why a tech detox, even just for the duration of a vacation, is overkill compared to adopting a digital mindfulness approach.

A Global Legal Tech Space: Aiming for a Truly Collaborative Online Community

Ideas for bringing the legal tech community together in a collaborative online space.

Emojis and Gifs: Pictorial Language Implications in Law

Emojis and gifs and the implications of their use in the legal profession, with bonus discus on how to pronounce “gif” correctly.

What’s Your Favorite Cool Tool?

Cool tools — the tools we can’t live without and a big shout out to the great Cool Tools podcast.

Technology Competence Perspectives

A conversation with superfan and Friend of the Podcast, Debbie Foster, about her perspectives on the current state of technology in the practice of law.

The Future of Legal Tech Conferences

Historic first episode where we are both physically at the same location, we discuss the current state of legal tech conferences and the need for balance between highly innovative content and essential training content at tech conferences.

Best Practices for Measures and Metrics in Law Firms

Measures and metrics, KPIs and OKRs, and how lawyers can use them to better their practices.

Quantum Computing — How Will it Affect the Legal Profession?

What lawyers need to know about quantum computing – and how soon they need to know it.

Exploring the Definition of “Legal Technology”

Deciphering the meanings of “legal technology” in 2019 – harder to do than you might expect.

Resolutions for Tech Improvement in 2019

Our fearless technology and podcast resolutions for 2019.

That’s 2019 so far. More great shows coming up in the second half of 2019. Listen to the podcast from the Legal Talk Network site or in your favorite podcast listening program or service. There are convenient links to podcasting tools in the left column of the podcast’s homepage.

We so enjoy producing the podcast and hope you find it useful and entertaining. If you have feedback, questions for us to answer on the show, or episode ideas, let us know by messaging either of us on LinkedIn or any of our other communication channels.

Photo by Tommy Lopez from Pexels


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

Linked Profile:

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.

When I was at Mastercard, I often had times when I had many projects in flight. A single, vertical to do list would have been too overwhelming for me.

I came up with the idea for a to do list template organized by categories and contexts and set out as a grid. That not only let me see everything broken up into chunks, but it also allowed me pick and choose what I wanted to work on at any given time of the day. I felt less overwhelmption and more control of my days. Made a big difference for me.

I found a copy of the template recently and decided I’d post it to this blog. If it seems like it could be helpful to you, please go ahead and use it. You might also modify the concept and adjust the number of squares on the grid or the categories to better fit what you need.

I will say that I would have rather been able to use Omnifocus, which I used and still use for my personal to dos, at work, but that was not an option.

Download (or Print) To Do List Grid Template (PDF)


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

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.

In the latter part of 2018, Gabe Teninbaum tweeted that he had decided to make his personal idea journal available to the public. I commented that I thought that was a cool idea. He encouraged me to do the same. Matt Homann also concurred. I’ve always liked Matt’s “idea garage sale” posts making available ideas he has lying around but isn’t using.

With great rapidity, only six months or so later, I have posted my public idea journal, which, not surprisingly, I have decided to call “DennisKennedy,Ideajournal.” I hope someone does not turn .ideajournal into a TLD so I won’t have to change it in the future or buy the domain name.

I’ve included old and new ideas, and ideas I plan to use and ideas that I probably will not use.

How it Works:

The ideas are kept in a Google Doc here. I’ll add ideas and supplement existing ideas from time to time.

You may view the ideas and comment on them, but you will not be allowed to edit them.

I’m trying to make them very easy for people to use, as long as they attribute the ideas to me. I’ve applied a Creative Commons license to facilitate that goal.

As a longtime intellectual property licensing lawyer, I have added some terms about allowing me to use the ideas in your comments and about you not keeping me from using my own ideas that you have used, so I alert you to that. If you don’t intend for ideas in your comments to be seen or used by me or others, don’t submit them. Also, other readers will be able to see your comments so use discretion about revealing proprietary or confidential information (i.e., don’t do it).

I’ll look at the Google Doc from time to time, but do not expect an immediate or even a prompt response from me.

Let me know what you think about this experiment or if you have any questions or issues with access.

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.


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.

This post is another part of a continuing series of posts I’ll be doing over the next month or so that I’m calling DennisKennedy.Next. You can find others under that tag on this blog. I’ve previously posted A New Approach to Publishing My Articles, My New Approach to Speaking and Allison Shields and I Are Writing a New LinkedIn Book.

I’ve taken some time after leaving Mastercard and relocating to Ann Arbor to regroup, rethink, and refocus. I’ve talked to many people, done a lot of reading and study, and learned much from teaching two classes at Michigan State University’s College of Law. My wife and daughter have called it my “gap year.” After finishing this past semester, I’m ready to launch some new things this summer. Hence, DennisKennedy.Next.

In part, this series of posts is a way to reply to the many people who have been asking me what I’ll be doing next. To one’s surprise, I’m sure, fully retiring was never in the cards for me. The blueprint laid out in David Corbett’s Portfolio Life was always in my mind.

So many of my friends have told me that one piece of what I need to be doing is something that calls to me and both fits and moves me. Others call this their “passion project.” That’s a good term.

The Kennedy Idea Propulsion Center (more on the origin of the name in a minute) will be my passion project. In 3 – 5 years, I expect that most of my time will be spent on that project.

In a few ways, I went back to my childhood on this one. Let me explain.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the lunar landing, I found myself not just excited about that, but remembering my immersion into everything about the NASA space program and the Apollo 11 mission. I remember vividly what was happening when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And I know that I’ll be outside on this July 20 at 10:56 PM Eastern looking up at the moon, remember that evening fifty years ago.

We recently watched a documentary on the Apollo 8 mission (highly recommended). In several scenes, people mentioned the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I’ve always loved the sound of that name. I also enjoyed the time I spent working with the Mastercard Labs team. When I came up with a new name for my LLC, many of the candidates had the name “Laboratory” in them, until I decided on the much more prosaic, descriptive, and probably more apt, Dennis Kennedy Advisory Services LLC.

From the JPL vision:

At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality.

My friends know that, if you ever get me to open up on the topic, I’ll say that I’d like to one day work at or have my own think tank. This, too, I realize comes from my early years. The phrase grabbed me from the first time I heard about it or read about it.

I love the idea of being paid to think, help bring ideas to life, be a “Yoda,” do my own research, collaborate on big projects, and do the things we all imagine think tanks do.

About ten years or so ago, I was at an event and got the chance to talk with the amazing Dave Gray, founder of Xplane, and the topic of my think tank came up. Dave said, “if you got $500,000 to start it now, what would it look like?” I stammered and stumbled and realized that ideas are one thing, but bringing them into action is something far different. And that a think tank idea would take some serious, well, thinking.

My recent flash of inspiration was putting those two notions together. One morning, I found the phrase “idea propulsion center” in my brain. A quick Google search showed that the phrase had never been used. “The Kennedy Idea Propulsion Center” was a short step from there.

I’m know for generating many ideas, seeing things in new ways, and for helping people get ideas out of their heads and into the real world to at least experiment with. I’m a bit less good at doing that with my own ideas, but usually people need help or a guide.

I did some quick sanity check testing. My Ann Arbor buddy Cash Butler at ClariLegal called me and I ran it by him. He thought I needed a tagline and suggested something about “The New IP.” I was dubious, but saw a bit of potential in “The New IP – not intellectual property, idea propulsion.” Maybe. A bit.

“Idea propulsion” pulls some key notions I care about together. Ideas, of course. More important, however, velocity, direction, and movement. Getting ideas from being trapped in your mind to out in the world working. Taking brainstorming results and turning them into prototypes, for example.

Laboratory, of course, brings in the notion of experimentation, testing, feedback, recalibrating, and the like.

I decided there was no point overthinking this anymore. I wanted to get it out into the world.

The final piece for me comes from my own history on the web and blogging. If you want to create something, you just do it and announce it. That was the story of my original webpage in 1995. Another examples was when I decided that there should be annual legal blogging awards and, seeing none, I simply announced my own Blawggies. People paid attention to them for the twelve years I did them. And it was just me putting my opinions out there for people to see and react to.

So, with this post, the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory (“KIPL”) comes into existence. I’ll work out all of the details, probably in collaboration with many others.

As I said, I expect that this “passion project” will become the vehicle that I’ll be putting most of my time into in about 3 – 5 years. Right now, it’s just me. I’ll put my custom consulting projects (watch for more details soon on Legal Innovation as a Service, which will be a separate thing), research, education writing and projects, advisory board work, access to justice, and similar efforts under the KIPL umbrella. And probably a few more surprises. I want it to be as open and free-flowing as my own interests are.

As I learned from my conversation with Dave Gray, there are plenty of details to work out.

  • Will it be for-profit or not-for-profit? It seems so much easier now to be a simple for-profit entity, but I need to learn if I then making it very difficult later to turn into a non-profit.
  • Do I bootstrap this, as in my inclination, or investigate interest in funding, sponsorship and investment?
  • Do I stay completely independent or do I discuss affiliation with law firms, universities, institutions, legal vendors or others?
  • And much more.

A hat tip, as always, to Matt Homann, who will recognize a little bit of LexThink in this.

And, with that, the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Center is born. Your comments are welcomed. I’ve also put up a survey with questions where you can provide me with a little feedback.


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.


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.

This post will probably end up being a part of a series of posts that I think of as “DennisKennedy.Next.”

The law school semester has ended and now ready to launch some of the new things I’ll be doing going forward. Expect to see more on that in the next month or so.

I’ve posted about my new approach to writing that I call #blogfirst. And I’ve posted about the new LinkedIn book Allison Shields and I are working on.

In this post, I turn to speaking.

First, a confession. I love speaking and I’m good at it.

Although I’ve done hundreds of presentations over the years, plus webinars and, of course, The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast, I’ve never had a plan or strategy about what I’m doing. If it sounded fun, I was likely to take the opportunity.

Over the last six months or so, I’ve had the chance to rethink what I’ve been doing and look at ways to direct those things to what I want to be doing. Speaking was the hardest one of these for me to come to terms with. Did I mention that I love speaking?

Over the weekend, I got the chance to present on digital estate planning at the 59th Annual Institute on Continuing Legal Education’s Probate and Estate Planning Institute. My friend, Jeff Kirkey, at ICLE talked me into it. I had a great time and the feedback was very positive. And there were several hundred people in the audience.

I also have been having an email conversation about speaking with Gabe Teninbaum and Jason Moyse over the last few days.

It also helped me finalize my new approach to speaking, which is:

1. Focus on Paid Speaking on Topics that Fit with What I’m Doing. No surprise here. I simply want to (further) professionalize the speaking I do. I’ve picked six topics where my interest is very high, there are few others who can cover the same topics as I do, and where I feel my perspectives and insights are uniquely helpful to an audience. Those topics are:

  • Legal Tech Trends – From Knowledge to Action – Building Bridges to Your Future(s)
  • A Legal Innovation Framework and Playbook
  • Panel Convergence – Innovation Driver or Innovation Destroyer
  • Productizing Legal Services: Delivering Value and Making Money While You Sleep
  • The 21st Century Platform Lawyer – Beyond the Transactional Lawyer
  • Building a Digital Estate Planning Practice Group

My new speaking page goes into more detail that I do here. I’ll, of course, consider customized engagements, which will be, well, customized and negotiated. Pretty straightforward.

2. Phasing Out of CLE Speaking. I have such mixed emotions on this, but the determining factor is that I’ve been doing CLE presentations for nearly 25 years. It’s been a great run, but . . .

  • Especially after my years at Mastercard, there is not a great fit between where my interests are and the interests of the typical CLE audience
  • It feels like it’s time to turn the CLE speaking I might do over to younger and diverse speakers
  • I feel like I’m blocking opportunities for people wanting to get started in CLE speaking
  • I think I have better ways to help bar associations than speaking

I use the term “phase out” for a reason. I still have some things on the calendar and have no doubt that I will be talked into doing a few presentations, especially here in Michigan. However, the timing seems right on this move.

If I am not able to speak at your CLE event, I generally can recommend a few excellent speakers for you, especially women and diversity speakers.

3. Commitment to Diversity. This point is the big one. For quite a few years, I’ve had the goal to speak only on diverse panels and to otherwise promote speaker diversity. People who know me know that I make it a point of suggesting several women speakers when I cannot take an opportunity. The “no more manels” goal is one that is important to me, and it pains me when I find myself on all-male panel or when an event has a small number of women and diverse speakers. In some cases, especially when I commit to a program early or there are late speaker replacements, that is not practically possible. I try to do my best, but want to do more.

In all cases, whether or not I am speaking at the event, I am happy to recommend diverse speakers from my extensive set of speaker contacts, which I intend to develop further. I recommend the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech list as a great place to find excellent women speakers on legal technology topics.

I’m also talking with the Michigan Bar about how I can help them find and develop the next generation of diverse CLE speakers.

I’d like help and comments on this, but I have been trying to think of a way that I can turn over some of my traditional topics to diverse speakers and help prepare and promote them for speaking opportunities. I have no idea how to price that, what it might look like, or whether there is any interest. I can definitely say that the opportunity to become a known local expert speaker on digital estate planning, cybersecurity, technology competence, and other topics is there for the taking for some new speakers.

And that’s the new approach for more details, see my speaking page. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and, of course, also welcome your invitations under section 1 above.


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.


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.

We’ve reached the point where I feel it’s time that I can say that Allison and I are busily at work on a new book on LinkedIn. We’re planning for it to be available on Amazon in early summer. The working title is “Making LinkedIn Work for You: The Legal Professional’s Handbook.”

Our earlier book, LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, had two successful editions, but is now out of print. We decided to go a new direction rather than simply do a third edition.

In the new book, we move away from the “lessons” format and concentrate on the practical LinkedIn strategies we are both known for and ways to take your LinkedIn game up a level or two. We will also include answers to many of the frequently asked questions we get in our presentations about LinkedIn.

We made a conscious decision to keep the book targeted at the legal industry, but are expanding the focus beyond just “lawyers.” We’ve had many readers tell us that the book is great for those outside the legal industry, but for marketing and content reasons (e.g., a chapter on legal ethics), this book will keep the legal focus. If we find sufficient interest, we might write a broader “professional services” version in the future.

Most important for me (and I hope for you), we’re going to a much lower price point for this book than the price point for our earlier book. We are also focusing on the ebook version.

You’ll hear more about the book, availability, pricing, opportunities to review it, and more as we get closer to the launch date. Watch for some Survey Monkey polls and other things. If you already know that you want to review the book, let us know with some information about your audience and reach, and we can put you on the list.


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.


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.