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LTNY 2009: Blawg Review #197

This presentation of Blawg Review is brought to you from LegalTech New York, where the anonymous editor of Blawg Review is attending in person along with many other tweeps and blawging lawyers who are arriving in droves in response to Incisive Media's generous offer of a free breakfast and the chance to see first-hand what's new in technology for the legal profession. Craig D. Ball, P.C. Announces Release of Absolutely Nothing 2.0™ for LegalTech New York.

Seriously, don't miss LegalTech 2009 beginning Monday at the Hilton New York Hotel. In challenging times, working smarter is, well, smarter; so, arm yourself with new ideas at the biggest legal technology event in the universe. And remember: if you don't show, everyone assumes you're in trouble, so be there!

"You don't really see much discussion of the impact of the economy on legal technology," writes Dennis Kennedy, who wonders, "Will law firm technology budgets be decimated in '09?" Bruce MacEwen, writing at Adam Smith, Esq., discusses the recent New York Times obituary for the billable hour. Holden Oliver, writing at What About Clients? about the subject that just won't die: alternative fees, demurs:

Because of its flexibility in the hands of client-centric lawyers, WAC? still likes the Billable Hour--even though many (if not most) lawyers abuse it out the wazoo. The problem, as we see it, is not the Timesheet, and it never was. Law is now both a trust-based profession and a business. No single system can make that built-in conflict go away. Only individual client-lawyer relationships can. We support any system that aligns as closely as possible the interests of clients and outside counsel. Hourly billing can do that. Alternative fees--value-based, hybrids, whatever you devise--can do it, too.

"In the last recession (i.e. way back in the early "aughts"), work/life balance took a back seat at law firms," says Stephen Seckler at Counsel to Counsel. But now there's Balanomincs. Monica Bay discusses "What I Hate About Technology - and what i expect my outside counsel, opposing counsel, vendors and staff to do about it!" Sam Conforti offers five technology predictions for 2009, including a business crackdown on employee use of social networking sites. Greg Lambert would call that a shame. He terms microblogging a missing (and valuable) communications tool within enterprises, including firms. Donna Seale, who blogs about human rights in the workplace, asks if using social networking sites in the hiring process is a smart move or human rights trap. In a post on the ABA Journal's Legal Technology blog headlined "Twitter Becoming ‘Incredibly Mainstream for Lawyers’" Debra Cassens Weiss reports that:

Law blogger Robert Ambrogi calls Twitter a “virtual watercooler,” a place where professionals can talk and exchange ideas. Another legal blogger, Scott Greenfield, wrote on his blog that he has to read Twitter because all his blogging friends use it to comment. “Twitter has become incredibly mainstream for lawyers," he writes.

Several legal bloggers wondered whether a diminishment of Twitter in the blawgosphere might not be a bad thing. Eric Turkewitz suggested that for some, like him, Twitter would be the tipping point toward information overload:

"I'm not looking to retreat to a cabin in the woods, eating grubs to survive and working on an anti-technology manifesto, but I also don't feel a compelling need to open every valve of the technology river."

Here's a list of the lawyers using Twitter who are going to LegalTech New York, compiled by Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog, who has recently launched LexTweet, a Web site that aggregates Twitter feeds of the legal community. Speaking about the LexTweet aggregator, Scott Greenfield suggested that lawyerly twittering was generally not lawyerly:

"[T]he biggest issue has nothing to do with Lextweet at all. The vast majority of twits are, how do I say this nicely, worthless to the general lawyer audience. Nothing personal, but intimate details of your personal hygiene don't interest me."

LexTweet proprietor Kevin O'Keefe, understandably enough, was able to find a number of useful ends for Twitter; he asked and 16 twittering lawyers answered. Scott Greenfield wrote that the valued community aspect of legal blogging has migrated from comments to Twitter. He notes that comments generally are dwindling and what's left there is vitriol and inanity. Jack Balkin's reaction has been more drastic: He's all but shut off comments altogether. He writes,

"[A]fter considerable frustration with the quality and the incivility of the comments, I turned off the comments section for a bit to calm things down and to see whether, after a time out, a culture of civility would reassert itself. It did so only briefly; then the trolls reappeared, the name calling began again, and things went downhill once more."

Carolyn Elefant noted the controversy and asked for thoughts from her audience -- in comments, of course! Ernie Svenson has an interesting blog post about how to hire a tech-savvy attorney, which is stimulating a discussion in the comments on his blog, Ernie the Attorney. Despite Twitter and all the other new toys available to legal bloggers, the traditional legal blog still has its place -- just not inside your firm's Web site, according to Kevin O'Keefe.

When it comes to upgrading your firm's legal technology (or advising clients who are making major IT purchases), there are a few things you need to know. Peter Vogel posted 10 Commandments of IT Contracts. "Few companies know as much as they should about Internet law. Every company runs across its share of scammers, disgruntled employees and lawsuits. How often a company sidesteps trouble and how often a company gets left holding the bag, often comes down to which side knows more about the laws affecting the Internet and which side has taken steps to use these laws to its advantage," writes Brett Trout at BlawgIT, where he lists six things you need to know about Internet law.

Rick Georges at FutureLawyer asks, "Have you fired this man lately?" Cord Blomquist at the Technology Liberation Front discusses the Federal Court's "Douchebag" ruling. The choice of a smartphone is, next to a choice of spouse, one of the most personal and emotional decisions one can make. Ben Stevens highlighted two lawyers' views of Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry, two of the leading devices. Speaking of smartphones, personal injury lawyers are blogging about the dangers of talking on cell phones or texting while driving: Hang up and drive!

If you’re tired of being the only lawyer you know who thinks like you do, and long to meet others who feel the same way, you might want to check out Lex Think and Innovate. Bob Ambrogi notes that LinkedIn recently announced a private beta of a new feature, Connections, that allows you to better manage your lists of LinkedIn connections. Law.com's Legal Technology Blog points to an article about "artificial intelligence" in legal reasoning. Dan Hull says, "The ability "to think like a lawyer" is about 10% of what you need to be an effective lawyer." And, finally, Mike Cernovich reminds us that legal tech is no substitute for good old-fashioned due diligence before your send hundreds of thousands of dollars to Nigerians. We'd like to thank Ed and the helpful sherpas, Colin Samuels and Victoria Pynchon, for their help pulling together this special presentation of Blawg Review for LegalTech, while the rest of us were watching an exciting football game and Super Bowl XLIII Ads. Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

Posted by Laurel Newby on February 2, 2009 at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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