Archive for February 2011

Feb 28, 2011

New Survey Profiles Lawyers’ Use of Technology

Only a third of lawyers use a case, matter or practice management system — just a slight increase from a decade ago, when a quarter of all lawyers used such a system. Among lawyers who have not adopted a case management system, the most common reason they give is that their “current method works and [...]

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Feb 27, 2011

Podcast: New Film Documents 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

On this week’s episode of the legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer, we look at the documentary, Out of the Ashes: 9/11. The film documents the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. Created just 11 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it remains the largest public entitlement program ever.

We speak with the executive producer, writer and co-director of the documentary, Marilyn J. Berger, professor at the Seattle University School of Law and founder of the school’s Films for Justice Institute; and with a lawyer who was featured in the film for her pro bono work on behalf of 9/11 victims and their families, Debra Brown Steinberg, partner with the firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

Listen to or download the program: The Making of Out of the Ashes: 9/11.

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Feb 24, 2011

Larry Bodine Transforms His Marketing Site to All Video

For some 15 years, legal marketer Larry Bodine has operated the LawMarketing Portal as a free news and information site about marketing and business development in the legal profession. Over the years, that has added up to hundreds of articles by marketing professionals on a range of topics.

Now Bodine is taking the site in a notable new direction. From now on, the site will feature only videos in place of articles, and it will take on a new name, the LawMarketing Channel. Larry will formally announce the changeover on Monday.

Each day, the site will feature one main video, “Today’s Legal Sales & Marketing Bulletin,” along with recent videos by Bodine and other marketing experts. All the videos will be brief  – generally no more than three minutes — and focused.

“We’re switching to an all-video format because when people have a problem, they just want someone to tell them the answer in three minutes,” Bodine said. “That’s exactly what we’re giving our visitors.”

Bodine was spurred to make the change based in part on a recent Pew Internet study that found that watching video is now the number one activity on the Internet for adults.

With the change to the all-video format, the site will retain all of the articles and other resources it built up over the years. Other features of the site will also remain unchanged, such as the ability to sign up for premium membership and to post event, job and consultant listings.

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Feb 17, 2011

Another Legal Site Jumps on the Consumer Ratings Bandwagon

Some lawyers still squirm at the mention of Avvo, the website that purports to rate every lawyer in the U.S. (and now every doctor too). My belief is that ratings are a good thing, in that they help consumers make a better-informed decision. We all check consumer ratings and reviews when we buy other products and services. Why shouldn’t they be available for legal products and services as well?

This month, another site added consumer ratings as a feature, as part of a broader relaunch. The site, MyLegal.com, describes itself as a “dynamic portal that provides business opportunities for the legal community.” It combines features of a marketing directory with those of a professional networking site.

One way in which MyLegal.com differs from many other legal directories is that it includes not only lawyers, but vendors offering products and services to the legal community. Thus, it includes listings for couriers, court-reporting services, e-discovery providers, paralegals, private investigators, and the like.

As of Feb. 1, MyLegal.com added a feature that enables consumers to add reviews of anyone listed in the directory. The feature is simple enough, asking the reviewer to provide a rating of up to five stars and to add a comment describing “your overall impression.”

I somewhat randomly searched the directory and was unable to find any listings that included reviews. Given that the feature was launched just two weeks ago, I’m not surprised by this. To be perfectly honest, I will be surprised if all that many users actually add reviews.

Listing in the MyLegal.com directory requires membership in the site, although the basic membership is free. The site also offers “preferred” and “premier” memberships for $25 and $50 a month.

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Feb 15, 2011

Watch CLE Video on Your Mobile Phone

The online CLE provider Lawline.com has launched a mobile-enhanced website that allows all of its more than 300 video CLE programs to be viewed on most mobile phones and smartphones. While it is not the first to provide audio of CLE through a mobile phone, it is the first to make it easy to view video of courses.

Open www.lawline.com in your mobile browser and you will be redirected to Lawline’s mobile-enhanced site (or just go directly to m.lawline.com). Once there, you are presented with a list of categories (ADR, antitrust, banking, bankruptcy, etc.). Select a category to see the list of courses offered within it. Or, you can toggle the view to see a list of all courses by title.

Once you select a course, you come to a page from which you can launch the video. The page includes a description of the course and tells you the states in which it is eligible for CLE credit. From this page, you download a PDF of the course materials or an MP3 file with just the course audio. I like that the page includes reviews of the course from others who have taken it.

Embedded at random points within the videos are verification codes that you will need if you want CLE credit. These provide proof that you watched the whole video. After you’ve completed the course, you are e-mailed a certificate of completion.

So far, it costs nothing to view any of these videos on a mobile phone. I suspect that this free access is only temporary, given that Lawline describes this new mobile-enhanced version as a beta. Plus, unless you are a registered Lawline subscriber, you cannot obtain CLE credit for any of these mobile course or download any of the course materials.

Prices for Lawline courses generally run around $40 a credit. It offers a variety of subscription bundles or a full year of unlimited CLE for $499.

One minor complaint about the mobile version is that it does not show course prices — or at least I couldn’t find them.

As I mentioned earlier, there are other ways to get audio of CLE on your mobile phone.  For example, West LegalEdCenter and Practising Law Institute both have apps for the iPhone and iPad. There are a number of CLE podcasts available through bar associations and private providers.

But Lawline appears to be the first to provide video. Having now watched bits and pieces of a few of these, I can report that the mobile site is easy to use and that the videos ran without a glitch.

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Feb 13, 2011

Ambrogi Elected Secretary of Mass. Bar Foundation

From left: MBF Executive Director Beth Lynch, Attorney General Coakley, Past President Laurence Johnson, President Joseph Vrabel, Vice President Jerry Cohen, Treasurer Robert Ward Jr., and me.

I am honored to report that at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation on Jan. 25, I was elected MBF secretary. The MBF is the state’s premiere legal charity, committed to ensuring equal access to the legal system for all, particularly those most vulnerable and in need.

Also at the annual meeting, the MBF presented Attorney General Martha Coakley with its 2011 Great Friend of Justice Award and heard remarks from Allan Rodgers, who recently retired as executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute after 41 years there.

The MBF has more about the annual meeting and additional pictures of the event.

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Feb 10, 2011

Podcast: The Slippery Legal Issues of Snow and Ice

When snow and ice result in personal injury or property damage, who is legally responsible? The answer will likely depend on the law of the state where the accident occurs. For more than 100 years, Massachusetts applied a rule that a property owner is not liable in tort for failing to remove a natural accumulation of snow and ice. That all changed with the Supreme Judicial Court’s 2010 decision, Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., in which the court abolished any legal distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and instead said that a property owner has a duty to act “as a reasonable person under all the circumstances” with regard to removal of snow and ice.

Will the Papadopoulos ruling result in a blizzard of new lawsuits in Massachusetts? What is likely to happen elsewhere in the U.S., given the severity of the weather this winter all across the country? On this week’s Lawyer2Lawyer podcast, we interview two lawyers who are experts in the slippery issues of liability for snow and ice:

Listen to the show or download the MP3 at the Legal Talk Network.

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Feb 9, 2011

Law Practice Management in the Cloud: A Panel Discussion

The public beta release last week of LexisNexis Firm Manager adds yet another choice for lawyers to use Software as a Service, or SaaS, to manage their law practices. Already offering law practice management in the cloud are such sites as Clio and Rocket Matter. Do SaaS applications make sense for lawyers? Is it ethical for lawyers to use them?

At a panel discussion recorded during LegalTech last week, I joined three other legal technology professionals to discuss the topic of law practice management via the cloud. Moderator of the panel was Tom Mighell, author of the blog Inter Alia and senior consultant at Contoural. Besides me, the other panelists were Carolyn Elefant, creator of MyShingle.com, and Andy Adkins, founder of the Legal Technology Institute at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Watch our video below. If you have any trouble seeing the video below, then you can play it by clicking on this link.

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Feb 9, 2011

New Site Helps You Pick an E-Discovery Provider

George Socha and Tom Gelbmann, two names well known in the e-discovery field for their annual Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey and for their roles in developing the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, have launched Apersee, a website that aims to become the premier system for helping litigation professionals choose e-discovery providers and products. The site features the Selection Engine, a tool that lets you pick and rank the criteria that are important to you and then find the vendors that most closely match.

I have written a more detailed review of Apersee at the Catalyst E-Discovery Blog.

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Feb 8, 2011

Lexis Releases Firm Manager to Public Beta

wrote here in December about the impending release by LexisNexis of a Web-based practice-management application designed for smaller-firm lawyers called LexisNexis Firm Manager. At the time, it was still in private beta with plans to release it to an invitation-only public beta starting in 2011.

That day arrived at Legal Tech New York last week, when Lexis released Firm Manager to public beta. During this beta period, there is no charge to use the application. However, in order to use it, you have to register and request an invitation.

As I explained in my earlier post, I was a member of a 15-member advisory board that provided feedback on the product’s development. Because of this, I am able to invite interested lawyers to participate in the public beta.

If you would like to register, visit http://www.myfirmmanager.com/sign-up-101KS-962DL.html and add my name to the comments field. According to Lexis, this will give you priority access to the public beta version.

And now the most important news: If you sign up for the beta, you will be entered in a drawing for an Apple iPad.

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