This week, in between eating as many burgers with extra onions as I could at Rogue States, and lobbying heavily for my law school to be more like Harvard and hide their GPAs (in my case, I was really hoping they could implement that retroactively), I managed to collect lots of good material for this week’s Rundown.
Among other things, the Rundown features a major merger, more on predictive coding, another Masters Conference write-up, several surveys, a cartoon caption contest, how technology is helping those in pro bono — and, oh, a bit of litigation that could last a long, long time….
The Google Car has been heralded as the future of automobiles: an autonomous, driver-less car that combines our love of technology with our endless desire for mobility.
The so-called “Google Car” is a Toyota Prius outfitted with data-recording cameras that has already traveled more than 140,000 miles, in a variety of real-world conditions without an accident. Well, there was that one.
A driver rear ended a Google Car while it was stopped at a red light, according to The New York Times piece that broke the story. While a technician sits behind the wheel, it’s the car’s programming that does most of the driving, with only occasional human adjustments, as needed.
There are many potential benefits from cars that drive themselves, such as tuning the engine to coast as efficiently possible, increasing the capacity of existing roads, and the unassailable fact that machines don’t get tired, they don’t get drunk, and they don’t get distracted. But they’re still machines. Even a reliability rate of 99.99 percent means that an accident is bound to happen at some point. And this means that somebody’s gonna get sued.
Read and comment about who should be held liable, over on our sister site, Alt Transport…
Non-tech-savvy people don’t think about this. And those same people are the types who take their laptops to the Geek Squad when they need computer help. Such a trip to Best Buy led to a 10-year prison sentence for Alabama resident Corey Beantee Melton.
In 2005, Melton sought the help of Best Buy’s Geek Squad because he was having trouble connecting to the Internet. Their initial assessment indicated the problem was originating from Melton’s DVD drive, so he left his laptop in their care and went on his merry way.
When the Geeks did their diagnostic scans of the computer, they found a pesky virus that appeared to be linked to specific files on Melton’s computer. Those particular files had names of a “very explicit nature,” says a judicial opinion in the case (hat tip: Eric Goldman for sending the opinion my way — see an old post of his for examples of filenames of an explicit nature).
The Geeks freaked — and called in the boys in blue, as they suspected they’d found child porn…
We solicited possible captions, with preference given to ones that would constitute alternative bios for the lawyer in question. You gave us a few good ones, so we decided to turn them into a caption contest….
One possible answer: your photograph (or lack thereof). As law firm marketing consultant Dion Algeri told Adrian, pictures are “extremely important” to attorney bios on law firm websites. Over at Great Jakes, Algeri analyzes the lawyer photos on the websites of ten different law firms: Axiom, Babcock Partners, Boies Schiller, Cravath, Edelson McGuire, Greenberg Traurig, Linklaters, Proskauer, Walkers, and White & Case. He notes a trend: “[F]irms are now recognizing the importance of these images and are investing in more lush and engaging photos.”
Don’t take it personally. Nobody is perfect, but unfortunately, when it comes to law firm bios — well, most of them stink. They tout the vast accomplishments of the lawyer: where they went to law school, if they graduated with honors, whether they were on law review. Then they often include a laundry list of each and every type of legal matter the attorney has ever dealt with in their life. The main problem is, attorney bios are often created with very little thought into strategy. This is unfortunate, especially considering how important bios are.
Your bio matters to decision makers. Ninety percent of general counsel claim the attorney bios are the most important part of a law firm’s website (2009 Wicker Park Group). Studies have also shown that bios are the most viewed pages on law firm websites, generating over 50% of the page views. If a good bio can help you land one more client this next year, what would that be worth to you? What about five new clients? Perhaps your bio deserves a little more attention than you are giving it.
There are three major problems that plague the bios of law firms, and some of them are pretty easy to fix….
This week, while taking a break from my favorite pastime — hanging out with strippers and snorting coke with federal judges — I attended the Masters Conference in Washington, DC. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this conference, it has carved out a significant niche for itself in the e-discovery universe. The Masters Conference is a gathering of legal technology thought leaders from all over the world, who come together every year at this time to talk about all things e-discovery. The yearly meeting was the brainchild of entrepreneur extraordinaire Robert Childress, president of Wave Software.
After attending last year’s Masters Conference, I thought I knew what to expect again this year: a small meeting (certainly not on the level of a LegalTech or an ILTA Annual Meeting), with the usual suspects, and similar — if not the same — topics of discussion.
Well, what a difference a year makes! The Masters Conference may only be in its fifth year of existence, but it seems to have just had its coming-out party. I’ll give you my three takeaways, after the jump…
Over the next year, LexisNexis is rolling out a completely redesigned research platform, and guess who they’re starting with? From the press release that came out Tuesday:
LexisNexis… today announced the launch of Lexis® Advance for Solos – the first in a series of releases of new Lexis® Advance online legal research tools. Created through close collaboration with solo practice lawyers to meet their unique requirements, Lexis Advance for Solos is the first online legal research solution built specifically for solo attorneys…
That’s right. They’re starting with solos. Maybe we don’t need to worry so much about advancing the small firm agenda after all? Perhaps, but I suspect that the real answer is that solos represent the market where Lexis has the most to gain.
But, let’s not quibble over why it’s here. It’s here, and I got a sneak preview of the new product Monday morning. Said “peek” was actually a LexisNexis-led tour via Microsoft’s Live Meeting, so read this with the caveat that I didn’t have a chance to truly kick the tires.
Dubbed Lexis® Advance for Solos, the product went live for purchase on Monday, October 4, and is available only for one and two lawyer outfits. Future segments of the new Lexis Advance platform, including those specifically for Biglaw and even for paralegals, will roll out over the course of the next year, but who cares? Solos have the floor!
My thoughts on the new product, sample screen shots, and pricing, after the break…
Welcome to the latest installment of The Rundown, a review of recent developments in the world of legal technology. Let’s plunge right in.
* Happy Birthday to Clio, a legal technology company that helps to streamline law offices. Clio is officially two years old, which is like twenty years in Biglaw.
* I pick up a lot of information about legal technology on Twitter. Two of the best people to follow in this subject area are Rob Robinson of Orange Legal Technologies and Eric Feistel of Integreon. These guys tweet out a plethora of information on a daily basis. It should be no surprise that in a past life they used to work together for another vendor.
* Another writer who has a firm grasp of e-discovery issues is Greg Buckles of ediscoveryjournal.com. This week he has an interesting post about vendor trends at LegalTech, which — hard to believe — is right around the corner.
Almost two years ago, I joined Twitter to help find a publisher for a book I was writing. A couple weeks later, a friend I followed on Twitter asked, “Does anybody know a contracts lawyer?” I responded and won a new client. A lawyer winning business on Twitter was somewhat unusual at that time, but it isn’t anymore. In the 2010 ABA Technology Survey Report, 10% of respondents “had a client retain their legal services as a result of use of online communities/social networking.” While 10% may seem small, it represents a dramatic shift in law firm attitudes towards social media.
So how are the successful attorneys doing it? By personally maintaining a presence online: 56% of attorneys reported having a presence in 2010, up from just 43% in 2009 and 15% in 2008. (In 2008, the social networks mentioned in the survey were Facebook, Second Life and LawLink — so times have changed a bit.) Bottom line is, there has been a clear shift over the last three years. Take a look at the classic innovation curve:
For those unfamiliar with the Rogers Innovation Curve, think of the first group of innovators as those who stood in line for the first iPhone, and the second group of early adopters as those who did their research and jumped on for the second version of the iPhone. The early majority represents widespread acceptance of the technology, and the late majority is when people like my father (who just recently stopped dictating emails to his secretary) buy iPhones. The laggards are those who have not yet figured out how to turn on their computers.
Participating in social networks is no longer a fringe activity enjoyed by the innovators and early adopters; it is now enjoyed by the early majority and a piece of the late majority. Social networks have hit the mainstream for lawyers, and since lawyers tend to lag behind the rest of the population in acceptance of new technology, I suspect there is even greater penetration among businesses and key decision makers.
How are different groups of lawyers responding to the social networking revolution?
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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