Unfortunately, Tom Mighell is no longer updating his pioneering legal tech blog, Inter-alia.net . He may be too busy with the excellent Kennedy-Mighell Report, but for whatever reason, his blogosphere voice is missed.  However,  the Inter-alia archives contain lots of useful materials, including last year’s thoughtful  three part series , Getting and Using a Password Manager:

Part 1: Intro to Password Managers

Part 2: Requirements

Part 3: My Recommendations

Password manager software and two factor authentication are probably the most important things most lawyers can do to upgrade their IT security. Mighell’s articles will help any lawyer who has yet to adopt this critical safety feature.

Stephen Terrell’s article in ABA’s Experience magazine has good advice on self-publishing, a topic discussed here previously. An excerpt:

What does it cost to self-publish a book? The surprising answer is not much. To actually publish a book both in print and ebook through Amazon’s KDP Publishing, there’s no up-front cost except for proofs and author copies you order. None.

If you take the quality of your self-published book seriously, there can be costs. You may want to hire a content editor to edit your story or a line editor to review your novel for those pesky grammatical and typographical errors. Costs vary but can range from about $5 per page for proofreading upwards to $20 per page or more for extensive editing.

KDP offers free standard covers, but you may choose to hire a cover designer; that typically ranges from $250–$600.

The author correctly notes that promoting the book is probably the biggest barrier. Some lawyers are in a better position to do this than others. Think about your ability to self-authenticate and self-promote before choosing this option.

I’m pleased to have known Kevin O’Keefe since way back when.

He made his first big splash on the Internet with Prairielaw, an innovative website based on the concept of lawyers networking directly with consumers of legal services. Conventional legal businesses that wanted to co-opt a potentially dangerous competitor bought him out. It was just as effective as trying to stop the tides by yelling at the ocean. The trend to do what Kevin had been doing was just too strong.

Kevin went to work for Lexis-Nexis. They fired him 17 years ago. It was only a bump in the road for him. He went on to found Lexblog, probably the leading websites-for-lawyers business in the country. He has a nice LinkedIn post about resiliency. Here’s a picture of the garage birthplace of Lexblog.

Are you admitted to the Virginia Bar? Or just interested in tech-for-lawyers? There is still time to register for the Virginia State Bar’s Techshow 2021 webinar on Monday, April 26 from 8:30 to 5:15.  Not able to attend the live program on April 26? Register to receive the links for on demand CLE credit after the webinar.

The $50 fee for this webinar program is a bargain. The virtual nature of the conference has made it possible for the organizers to bring in an all-star roster of presenters, including  Debbie Foster, Jim Calloway, Sharon Nelson and Tom Mighell, who will present the ever-popular closing 60 Legal Tech Tips in 60 minutes program.

Note that capacity is limited to 500  and that only 125 seats are left.

Patrick Palace has some good ideas in his ABA Solo magazine article How to Use Bad Reviews to Attract Good Clients (ABA members only). The most important idea is that negative reviews can be a net positive–if you know how to respond. Here’s one specific tip:

Timely responses are even more important for negative reviews. Don’t let a negative review sit without a response. Readers may adopt it if you don’t respond. Your response should be targeted to the readers of the review. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are responding for the sole purpose of answering the reviewer’s challenges. Your response should take the higher ground and give value to all readers. Never suggest that the reviewer is unreasonable or wrong. In fact, give the reviewer full deference and grace. Thank the reviewer for bringing these issues to your attention. Taking the higher ground is always the best method. For example, by answering in a positive manner, you aren’t seen as aggressive, defensive, and angry. By inviting the reviewer to contact you personally to discuss the problems and look for a solution, you show your reasonableness and willingness to hear your client’s problems. Your response tells readers that you are ready and willing to fix their problems. You convey that your clients/customers are not just numbers, that profit is not your only goal, and that customer service is your priority. By answering quickly, you tell everyone that you are responsive and that reviews are important to you. In the end, remember to be empathetic. Be real. Use the review as an opportunity to gain other readers’ trust.

Can you do well by doing good? Hard to argue with opinions expressed by Lexblog founder Kevin O’Keefe in his Facebook feed:
Other than some criminal defense, appellate, immigration and plaintiff’s trial lawyers, I don’t see many lawyers blogging with conviction. The numbers are lower in larger firms.
If you feel comfortable getting out there, the opportunity is certainly there to provide thought provoking opinions and advocate change.
Look at civil rights, pro bono and immigration lawyers advocating for change.
They’re not only making a difference in the law by advocating for change, but they’re making a name for themselves. Though the latter may not have been their goal.
Yes, it’s likely you’ll alienate some people, but expecting everyone to love you forever is foolhardy.
Advocating change, stating an opinion and calling out others can be done in a tasteful fashion. You need not stick a thumb in anyone’s eye.

One point for the practical-minded: Controversy can actually be good marketing. As noted by Conrad Saam in Lunch Hour Marketing at the Legal Talk Network:

I go out of my way to embrace someone from the local black lives matter movement. I sit down with them on video and we have a conversation about what transpired and I put that on my website. I don’t throw that on YouTube, I put that on my website. …

[I]f you have a piece of content that is very raw, very real, very relevant and very newsworthy and frankly, very link worthy for people to link back to your site, I would stoke that like mad. Again, you cannot let SEO dive to everything that you’re doing but that’s the kind of thing that a really, really good SEO agency would be thinking about.

Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law: A Practical Guide for Law Firms, Law Departments and Other Legal Organizations, by Dennis Kennedy. 212 pages. Kindle and paperback versions are available.

The late World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer liked to say “When I play the Ruy, it’s like milking a cow.” What he meant was that when he played his favorite opening setup, the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) he could count on a steady, predictable stream of wins.

Dennis Kennedy‘s new book tries to make innovation in law firms or other organizations like milking a cow. Rather than waiting for a lightning strike of creativity, approach the innovation process systematically, step by step, until you get the results you want.

Are you weary of trying to let some contract facilitator lead your group to come up with new approaches through a workshop featuring a swarm of sticky notes and too few new ideas? This book provides a welcome alternative: A systematic, comprehensive approach to innovation.

Kennedy has long had a well-deserved reputation as a top legal technology expert, but in this book he moves beyond tech to take a broader look at innovation in all areas. The playing field is larger, but so are the potential benefits.

One of the key concepts is distinguishing optimization and innovation. Optimization is doing what you are already doing in a more efficient way. It is a subset of innovation, which might involve new business models. Optimizing is relatively easy, but the truly ambitious will seek larger benefits.

Successful Innovation Book

There’s a lot to like about this book, including:

  • It emphasizes focused, practical solutions rather than generalities and theoretical constructs. For example, in Chapter 1, rather than spend 20 pages defining innovation, he gives multiple definitions and closes with the advice: “Get to work on innovation, however you define it, and let others talk.”
  • It moves beyond technologies to take a broader view of innovation.
  • The author does not pretend to be the only person with worthwhile ideas on this topic. He summarizes the best approaches taken by other experts before providing his original ideas. A well-organized list of other innovation resources is a welcome plus.
  • Kennedy has a knack for expressing useful ideas in a pithy fashion. Each chapter ends with a “Pro Tip.” The last chapter consists of “57 Tips for Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law.” Dennis generously provides a free copy through his website.

One of my favorite “Pro Tips” concludes Chapter 19, “Personnel and Who’s In Charge.” Dennis suggests “Do not hire a group of people who look and think like you do.” The biggest benefit of diversity is not the warm feeling of knowing that you are politically correct, but avoiding what in the military is known as “incestuous amplification.”

A recurring theme of this book is the importance of enhancing customer value. Kennedy is 100% right about this. My only suggestion for a second edition of this book is including more examples, case studies. These are a strong point of Jack Newton’s popular book The Client Centered Law Firm.

Dennis does not merely talk innovation: He does innovation. Rather than go with a conventional book publisher, Kennedy self-published the book, working through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (includes option for on-demand paperback publishing as well as eBook).

I used to think of “vanity press” in a condescendingly, as primarily for authors whose work was not good enough to interest a “real” publisher. This book has changed my attitude. There are multiple advantages to self-publishing, including speedier development and reducing the cost to purchasers. It is yet another example of how the Internet enables “disintermediation,” or cutting out the middleman.

Kennedy is in a better position to self-publish than most authors. Having a respected third party (in this case, an established conventional publisher) select a book for publication serves a sort of credentialing function, “validating” the book for potential readers. Kennedy’s track record as a recognized expert and author allows him to “self-validate.”

Dennis found the results of self-publishing so beneficial that he explained in an interview posted at his podcast, the Kennedy-Mighell Report that the odds are 95% that he will self-publish his next book.

 

Conclusion: There is wisdom here, in full and satisfying measure. If you are looking to get better results from your organization, whether a law firm or other legal organization, you can’t do better than letting this book be your guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I learned that Dennis is an inexhaustible fount of creativity when we worked together for several years on The Internet Roundtable, an LLRX.com column about lawyer marketing on the Internet. His breadth of experience, including corporate law firms, in-house counsel with Mastercard and author qualifies him to address innovation in a variety of contexts.

He has written several books previously, including the well-regarded Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, 2nd Edition, with Tom Mighell.

His Legal Talk Network podcast The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast is one of my favorite multi-tasking partners. He is currently a respected legal technology consultant and an adjunct professor at Michigan State University College of Law and the University of Michigan Law School. Kennedy is available for speaking engagements.

Many lawyers contribute their time to worthy causes, but they are often not aware that they can and should get some benefit from their altruism.

Backlinks (links other websites build to yours) are critically important to search engine optimization (SEO). They are even more powerful when they come from websites (including blogs) geographically close to you, since they boost your rank in Google search results in your area.

You can do well by doing good. However, you have to close the loop. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging the people or organizations you help to recognize this by building a link back to your website.

Advanced link building: “we are killing black men….”

Hat tip to Conrad Saam, author of Own the Map, the best book I know about current law firm marketing techniques.