RIP: Ross Kodner, Legal Technology Guru

Ross Kodner

The legal technology field lost a giant this week with the death of Ross Kodner, who suffered a heart attack two days after turning 52. Ross was a lawyer — a 1986 graduate of Marquette University Law School — but was known worldwide as the founder of the legal technology consulting firm MicroLaw, which he started in Wisconsin in 1985, and as a prolific speaker and author. I find it hard to imagine that there could be a lawyer anywhere in the United States who has not attended at least one CLE session presented by Ross or not read at least one of his articles.

No doubt, there will be many, many tributes to Ross talking about his many contributions to legal technology, about his long-unwavering dedication to WordPerfect, about the opulent, invitation-only Consultants and Technologists Dinner he hosted every year at TechShow, and about his gregarious nature and the warm greeting he offered everyone he met.

But I wanted to mention two of Ross’s achievements that, with the passage of time, many have been forgotten, but which exemplify the kind of guy he was.

Think back to Sept. 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that horrible event, many of us were so stunned and shocked that we did not know how to respond. Not Ross. Less than a week after the attack, the New York State Bar Association launched a website called Legal TechAid, devoted to serving as a clearinghouse of information about replacing computer systems, recovering data and reestablishing law practices interrupted by the events of that day. The site was almost entirely the result of the volunteer work of Ross and Dale Tincher, president of Consultwebs.com, who joined forces and scrambled to make it happen. (Ross preserved an archived version of the site on the Microlaw website.)

Four years later, another disaster struck, and Ross once again sprang into action. This time, the disaster was Hurricane Katrina, the deadly storm that devastated the Gulf Coast. Within days of Katrina, Ross and Dale had again collaborated to launch a website, which was called Help Katrina Lawyers. Its purpose was to pull together and serve as a clearinghouse for volunteers and resources to help Gulf Coast law firms with issues relating to legal technology, practice management and data recovery. In just days, Ross and Dale managed to mobilize a small army of lawyers, vendors, consultants and others who were willing to offer their assistance.

Craig Ball wrote a great tribute to Ross which I urge you to read. In it, he refers to Ross’s campy humor and sardonic wit. For a sample of that, you need have looked no further than his LinkedIn profile, where he listed his two favorite quotes:

“Friends don’t let friends word process without Reveal Codes (even in Word).”

“If you think hiring an expert is expensive, try hiring an amateur.”

Those of us who had the good fortune to know Ross can hear him saying those quotes in his clear and distinctive voice. It was a voice that will be sorely missed at technology conferences and CLE programs for many years to come. Rest in peace, Ross.

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26 Responses to “RIP: Ross Kodner, Legal Technology Guru”

  1. […] post RIP: Ross Kodner, Legal Technology Guru appeared first on Robert Ambrogi’s […]

  2. This is shocking and sad news. Ross helped establish TechnoLawyer’s legitimacy in our early, fragile days. He once wrote an article for us while receiving chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I think the word indomitable best describes him. We will never see his like again in legal technology. My colleagues and I extend our condolences to his family.

  3. Bob,

    Thanks for sharing those stories about Ross. I had the pleasure of meeting him on numerous occasions. He will be missed!

  4. Greg says:

    I had the pleasure of knowing Ross as a friend and colleague. While I don’t have the ‘war’ stories others do, I can say he was a great guy and pretty damn funny.

    Thanks Robert, for a very nice tribute.

  5. Craig Ball says:

    Thanks for reminding me of Ross’ efforts after 9/11 and Katrina. He was a mover and a shaker. His shoes will not be filled.

  6. I am so sad to hear about the passing of the late great Ross Kodner. His long-unwavering dedication is admirable and his goodness will always be remembered. Rest in peace.

  7. Paul Purdue says:

    He will be missed! Rest in Peace, Mr. Kodner . . . . . . .

  8. Deb Dobson says:

    Thanks for sharing a beautiful tribute to Ross. I had followed his amazing efforts to help those impacted by both 911 and Katrina. He was an amazing guy and this is a tragic loss for his family and the legal technology community.

  9. Dale Tincher says:

    Robert, thank you for this very nice tribute to our dear friend, Ross Kodner. I am truly saddened to hear this. Ross was a great mentor and friend when I started Consultwebs. I met him on the Technolawyer and ABA listservs and always enjoyed the He was very helpful in getting us started 14 years ago. Ross was a very entertaining and gracious host at the annual TechShow dinners and I met many wonderful people at them.

    As Robert said, Ross had a big heart and called me when key tragedies stuck and I was honored to help him carry out his ideas to help those in need.

    Ross and I stayed in touch and I received a beautiful, humorous holiday card in December that pictured the precious family that he loved so dearly pictured on it.

    This is a total shock. I will find more appropriate words to say when I have taken this in. Thank you again for the very nice tribute.

  10. Very sad! We were optimistic about having Ross come in to assist us. He will be missed in and out of the legal community. Thank you Ross for your impact on the legal community.

  11. […] of the ABA law practice administration section, in keeping with a bio on the MicroLaw website. Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites and Ball to your courtroom revealed […]

  12. cj stevens says:

    Nicely done, Robert. Ross was truly a generous spirit. I heard a pastor describe someone like Ross as “one of God’s handkerchiefs” — He drops them on Earth precisely where they can do the most good. Ross was a highly intelligent, creative, generous, and “outside the box” thinker among several thousand solo and small firm lawyers who always need some kind of tech help, and always found it from Ross.

  13. Donna Payne says:

    What a nice tribute to Ross. All of us who knew him will have our Ross stories. He was funny, engaging, knowledgable and never at a loss for words. For us, he was a partner, and to me, a friend who will be missed. RIP Ross. You made a difference to our industry and touched so many of us.

    Donna Payne

  14. Sue says:

    I never got to meet Ross but I wanted to. I had planned on meeting him at ILTA this year.

    Life is fragile and precious, love your dear ones while you have them.

  15. Tom Burke says:

    It is deep shock to learn of the sudden passing of one of the greatest advocates and friends we at Worldox/World Software have ever had.
    On behalf of the Worldox family we extend our condolences to Ross’ family.
    Ross was our very first Consultant/Reseller in 1990. He was a tireless advocate for us and our products.
    What we will remember is his lively spirit, deep commitment to his ideas, and the constant boldness to express them in a clear and memorable manner.
    Ross Kodner was, and is, an icon and a legend of our business.
    Rest well my friend, you have the thanks and admiration of many of your colleagues.

  16. Bill Baker says:

    Robert, thank you for the tribute to my friend Ross. Besides being assoicated with him as a STI and Wordox reseller, we were business friends as well. Most people do not know that Ross was a car expert. He attended the car auction with me at Pebble Beach one year, and was able to predict the price of every car that went on the block. He had an amasing knowledge of automobiles that friend never knew. Besides cars, Ross also know all the gadgets that a road warrior should have and I often consulted with him on what he used and why. He was a good friend and I will miss our dinners at the reseller meetings.
    Thanks again for the tribute to his memory.

  17. Dan Berlin says:

    Ross had been a colleague and friend for over 25 years. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Ross.

  18. Robert:
    I had met Ross at an ABA LPM meetin shortly before Sept. 11, 2001. I was the Practice Management Advisor for the New York State Bar Association. Within 24-hours after the attacks, I had received a call from Ross and Dale Tincher letting me know how they – and sixty of their closest friends – were prepared to help the New York legal community. They did not ask me what they could do, they told me what they were going to do.

    As you pointed out, Ross and Dale (under the name of the New York State Bar Association)launched a website called Legal TechAid, devoted to serving as a clearinghouse of information about replacing computer systems, recovering data and reestablishing law practices interrupted by the events of that day. From my standpoint, the site was entirely the result of the volunteer work of Ross and Dale Tincher – along with Ross’ community of 60+ ABA LPM friends.

    Ross and his family will continue to remain in my daily prayers.

  19. He most definitely made a difference in the world of legal tech. A true inspiration!

  20. Robert Jaret says:

    I was a close friend of Ross’ from law school at Marquette. We spent quite a bit of time together. He was so far ahead of his time with respect to computers it is really mind blowing in retrospect. He was always a great friend and extremely honorable! Robert Jaret

  21. Robert Nash says:

    Ross moved our office into the 21st century in 2008. We were looking forward to his updating us and our computer system next year. We are thankful for his advice and counsel. We offer are prayers and sympathy to his family and to the MicroLaw family. Robert Nash

  22. Dale Tincher says:

    I located some photos of Ross and JoAnna Forshee’s 2005 Annual Consultants & Technologists Dinner – one of many years of photos linked. Several other years’ pictures are also linked as well as Tech Show photos.

    Ross and JoAnna did an amazing job – the dinners were always lavish and entertaining. I made many great friends with whom I still communicate – http://cwwebs.com/ncphotos/dinner_2005/dinner5.htm

    I miss our dear friend!

  23. […] RIP: Ross Kodner, Legal Technology Guru (lawsitesblog.com) […]

  24. Andy Kodner says:

    Thank you for this, Bob. A great tribute and very much appreciated – truly.

    Andy Kodner

  25. Am only now aware of this very sad news. Ross was instrumental in coaching our start-up legal temp staffing and placement firm ten years ago. Only Ross would be genius enough to say – “hey Curt – temp staffing with billable hours sounds a lot like how a law firm runs – why not build your company on TimeMatters?” (Can’t you hear him say that?). He made it sound like a question – but it was really him saying – do that. He and Nernio tweaked TimeMatters 5.0 for our porposes a bit and voila! – our firm will be ten years old next month and we’re still the only temp staffing firm (legal or otherwise) running back office on TimeMatters! What a blow this is. Ross made so many great recommendation to us – Dale Tincher’s firm of course and many others – and Nancy would respond in kind with her top wines and restaurant reviews for Ross. We are stunned. More so as a fellow high school class of 1979 grad – it does not take a math whiz to make the Live Every Day theme hit home. And Ross sure did. Ross – Nancy and I finally got up to Road American last year too! With deepest sympathy ~ Curtis and Nancy Linder

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