Is the newest edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools: Smart Ways to Work Together the most important legal tech book of the year? My review at LLRX.com explains why.
Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools
The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Work From Home Edition, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell is one of the most important legal technology books published at least since 2018, the date of the previous book in this ABA series. My review is complete and should appear at my favorite legal journal soon. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions as to how lawyers can get a head start on improving their bottom line through better collaboration:
1. Consume Some Key Podcasts
Check out key episodes of the Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast, particularly those segments focusing on collaboration. The most directly relevant are:
- The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools & Technologies: Work From Home Edition
- The Collaboration Layer of Your Technology Stack
- Collaborating in Hybrid Work Environments
- The Latest in Collaboration Tools & Technologies
Not a podcasting fan? The ABA’s Legal Talk Network has the advantage of providing transcripts of each podcast that include hypertext links to resources mentioned. Nice touch, since you can scan a transcript in less time than it takes to listen to a podcast.
In whatever format you consume them, these podcasts are valuable because in some cases they provide useful ideas that go beyond the text of the book. For example, in the podcasts Kennedy and Mighell somewhat more directly address a downside of teleworking: People who spend less time in their physical office may be less competitive when decisions on prizes like partnerships are made. There has been so much euphoria about the freedom of working from home that this drawback is often underestimated. I also have a few thoughts on the issue.
2. Attend ABA Techshow
ABA Techshow is the world’s premier legal technology conference–by a large margin. This year, and every year, multiple sessions will deal directly or indirectly with collaboration.
ABA Techshow: Still #1
Many reasons this is by far the best legal technology conference. Their prohibition of selling from the podium is one of the best.
So glad to see them returning to in-person programming this year.
Working from Home & Career Development
Maryann Zaki is bitter–and it sounds like with good reason.
One of her many justified complaints after being pushed out of Biglaw is:
“I was told that I couldn’t “expect to have 3 kids and go on 3 maternity leaves, and make partner at the same time as everyone else” (uh, okay – good to know 🤔🤦♀️)”
No disrespect to Ms. Zaki at all, but many people in her position probably realized, at some level, that promises of “mommy track” equality were illusory.
My reaction is to wonder:
What are the chances that 5 or 10 years from now many people will be hearing “You can’t work from home 3 days a week and expect to make partner at the same time as everyone else.”
Working from home has its advantages but it’s unrealistic to expect that remote workers won’t be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who spend more time in the office. Many won’t like to hear this, but that’s reality.
Growing: Keep Learning Forever
“He that’s not busy being born is busy dying.”
Bob Dylan had it right in his song It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding. This is why I try to keep learning and growing. Jeff Rovner‘s Concept Companion is a worthy tool to help.
It’s build on a simple idea: A deck of cards that explains key concepts. I loved it on first sight since I had found myself trying to explain many of the concepts during presentations. I consistently found that many of the ideas were unfamiliar even to many very sophisticates lawyers.
Check it out. Even if you only get one good new idea it will probably be worth a lot more than $35.
The Crypto Meltdown
As many technically savvy experts predicted, the crypto house of cards is collapsing.
There are technical reasons why the crypto bubble is bursting, including the fact that theoretically unbreakable encryption schemes like those underpinning blockchain have proven to be less than impermeable in practice, as users of Coinbase discovered upon losing fortunes. Attackers go after the weakest link in the chain, usually the way in which the algorithm is implemented. Perhaps more ominous, the emergence of a new class of devices called quantum computers threatens to eat the algorithms that underlie crypto for lunch.
However, no technical expertise is needed to understand the historic and economic reasons for the impending demise of crypto—and its bastard offspring, NFTs (non-fungible tokens). They are the biggest speculative bubble since Dutch Tulip mania. Like tulips, bitcoins and other forms of cryptocurrency have no intrinsic value. They are not gold or pork bellies, nor backed by the good faith and credit of any government. A sane person should be wary when multiple prominent economists, including multiple Nobel prize winners, say cryptocurrency has no intrinsic value whatsoever. Angus Deaton’s assessment:
“It’s better if you’re a criminal, I don’t know why else. The only advantage as far as I can see is you can be a crook [referring to the anonymity that cryptocurrencies allow]. It’s not an accident that people who demand ransoms demand them in bitcoin. I’m not sure anyone else does.”
Crypto is the most serious current example of the Greater Fool Theory. It’s based on the idea that you can make a profit even on a worthless asset, if you can only find someone stupid enough to take it off your hands. As noted by someone who should know, crypto and NFTs are “100% based on greater fool theory.”
Blogging Isn’t Magic–But It Works
Marketing: Put the Ball In Play
There is a baseball saying: “Put the ball in play and good things will happen.” You might hit the ball hard enough to earn a hit. The left fielder might lose the ball in the sun. You might not hit the ball hard enough for a hit, but watch with delight as the wind carries it over the fence. The right fielder might crash into the first baseman, breaking his leg and in the process leaving you standing safely on first base. (I nearly cried when I saw this happen to Nats favorite Nick Johnson).
The point is, you can’t anticipate exactly what will happen, but if you put the ball in play there’s a good chance you will like the result. If you stand there with the bat on your shoulder you’ll never know what might have happened.
It’s exactly the same for lawyers trying to market their services on social media. You have to put the ball in play to have a chance at success. Social media is one of the best ways to get into the game.
A cautionary note: Experts as diverse as Kevin O”Keefe (founder of the leading websites-for-lawyers company, Lexblog.com) and Conrad Saam (author of the SEO reference Own the Map) agree on one thing: Marketing via social media is not easy. Few lawyers have a good feeling for the dynamics of online virtual communities and even fewer have the time or patience to build the personal relationships that are the key to success online. Let prospective lawyer-marketers take heed.
An (Old) New Idea: Blogs as a Disruptive Technology
I’m written many articles over the years, but my 2004 Law Practice Magazine article Blogs as a Disruptive Technology is my favorite of the 100 or so articles on legal technology. I like to think that it helped lawyers understand the coming significance of blogs, laying the groundwork for businesses like Kevin’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs.
There is much more to be said about the significance of blogging for lawyers. I covered a few blogs-for-lawyers posts at my personal blog, Netlawtools.com and will be addressing this topic here in the future.
Password Managers: Why And How
Password management programs do not merely make users safer. They make you more productive by reducing frustration and time lost through ad hoc password storage and organization techniques. Pretty nice parley, right? It’s sad that only 20% of people use one.
I’ve been using an app that gets high reviews, 1Password, for a while. I have not been completely happy with it. Among other problems, it’s difficult or impossible to change the master password to something easier to type but still strong.
I’m switching to LastPass. It’s the top choice of this guy I’ve known & respected for 25+ years, since he started one what was probably the first good blog on tech for lawyers. I listen to the podcast he does with another respected friend more often than any other podcast (except for CBSRMT).
So far it seems far superior, much easier to use.
Thinking about upgrading yourself? Note that it’s relatively easy to import passwords you already have already stored in another manager.
Selecting A Password
Password length is the most important factor in password security. This makes a long password that is easy to type attractive. The best way to implement this is described as “Tell a story that is unique to you.” Here’s an example:
This example has 20 plus words. It has a digit and a special character but it’s easier to type than something like the suggestions generated by most password managers, usually something along these lines: 25A#fu351el!@322ir82%9
My new personal “master password” is a sentence with 24 characters, summarizing the plot of a favorite inspirational movie & including a digits and a special character. It’s probably more secure than needed, but it’s still relatively easy to type.
Consumer Reports and Wired.com have some good advice for password manager newbies. It’s more important to have a decent manager than to obsess over trying to be sure you have the very best.
The esteemed Tom Mighell published his three part series on password managers a while back but it remains an excellent source of implementation guidance.
I loved the recent LinkedIn shout-out from Carolyn Elefant, which also made some important substantive points about blogging and lawyer use of newer social media.
As best I remember, it was actually a presentation for Maryland CLE when Carolyn first helped me. It doesn’t matter, since whoever it was they loved her ad hoc presentation as much as I did.
I like being a talent spotter. So far as I know, my invitation to her was her first opportunity to give a presentation on lawyer use of the Internet.
Carolyn’s blogging helped me find her. It made her stand out in my mind. Blogging worked then and still works, if you know how to use it, as Kevin O’Keefe never tires of reminding us.
True, much of the magic is gone, but the benefits can be large. Also note: Just about anyone who aspires to social media prominence can benefit by a supplemental blog. This is why Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell recommend the use of a blog as the hub of your promotional efforts. It’s good advice.