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Speaking Engagement--NYC 1/28

Checkmark I'm pleased to announce that I'll be speaking at the New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting on January 28th, 2010 in New York City. I've been asked to speak about cloud computing at the "Hot Topics in Legal Technology" track of the conference.

I'm particularly excited about this program since I just recently signed a publishing contract for a book about lawyers and cloud computing, which I expect will be published at the end of 2010.

You can learn more about the program here and you can register for the program here. Hope to see you there!

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Focus on Your Online Presence in 2010

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Focus on Your Online Presence in 2010."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Focus on Your Online Presence in 2010

People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves.

— Seth Godin

You’ve been reading my column for a while, haven’t you? So by now we must be friends, buddies, pals, right?

Right.

So listen to me my friends, my fellow lawyers, my technologically-challenged colleagues: 2010 is the year you must focus on your online presence.

Believe me when I tell you the Internet is where therest of the world spends much of its time. If your business is not there, much like Bender, a character from one of my favorite movies, “The Breakfast Club,” it may as well not exist:

Andrew: You know, Bender ...you don’t even count. I mean if you disappeared forever it wouldn’t make any difference. You may as well not even exist at this school.

I urge you: Do not let your firm suffer the same fate as Bender. I’ve been trying to convince you of this fact for years now and, as Seth Godin aptly notes in the opening quotation here, telling you your online presence is of paramount importance simply
hasn’t been enough. It seems I’ll have to prove it to you by way of example, show you that a strong online presence will pay off in the long run.

Let’s examine an effective online presence and its benefits,shall we? To that end, I offer you my story.

In 2003, I had been practicing law for more than eight years. At the time I was an associate with a Rochester law firm. I loved the firm, but nevertheless was unhappy. I wasn’t sure why I was unhappy, but I knew that I was. I felt as if a part of me was dying and I desperately needed a change. So, I took a self imposed hia-
tus from law.

I returned to law in 2005, opening up shop as a contract attorney and started my first blog, “Sui Generis.”

From there, things began to fall into place. As I blogged, business found me. Lawyers hired me to do work for them and, at the same time, writing and speaking opportunities were offered to me based in large part on the body of work I’d created through my blog.

Those opportunities arose because my online presence —which includes blogs, Web sites and active participation on a number of social media platforms —is very strong.

How strong? My blog is the first result on Google when you search for Rochester, NY lawyer; Rochester, New York criminal lawyer; New York law blog; Rochester, NY technology lawyer; Rochester, New York technology lawyer; Rochester, New York Internet lawyer ; Rochester, NY Internet lawyer; Rochester, NY online lawyer; Rochester; New York online lawyer; Rochester, NY cloud computing lawyer; Rochester,
New York cloud computing lawyer; or Rochester, New York lawyer.

My blog is the third result for this search: Rochester,New York attorney.

For the search Rochester, NY social media lawyer, I am mentioned in nine out of 10 of the Web sites listed on the first page of the results.

Because of my online presence and my high standingin Google rankings, I regularly receive inquiries via e-mail and phone from people seeking an attorney.

The strength of my online presence and the body of work contained in my various law blogs has resulted in many other opportunities, the likes of which otherwise never would have been available to me.

Since I first started blogging in 2005, I have been quoted in the print media nearly 20 times. I have spoken about the intersection of law and technology 14 times since the spring of 2007 and I have four speaking engagements booked this spring at conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, among others.

Early on, I began to write this column for The Daily Record and was offered the opportunity to co-author the West Thomson treatise Criminal Law in New York.

Currently I am in the process of writing a book about social media for lawyers, which will be published by the ABA in the spring. I also recently signed a publishing contract to write another book, which will focus on cloud computing for lawyers.

The strength of my online presence, based in large part on the useful content I create and share online, resulted in all of those opportunities. Imagine what an effective online presence can do for you and your law firm.

Shouldn’t 2010 be the year you stop wondering and find out?


Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Is 2010 the year lawyers enter the 21st Century?

We’re probably about five years into a 30-year cycle of trans- formation. … But there is simply no doubt that 25 years from now, when people reflect on the seminal changes of the early days of the century we are about to begin, the impact of networked com- puting will stand in relief.

    — Lou Gerstner

Many members of the legal profession simply are ignoring Internet technologies and writing them off as a fad. In doing so, they are refusing to acknowledge a fundamental cultural shift has occurred.

Those lawyers, quite simply, are living in another century. Their failure to acknowledge and learn about the radical changes taking place ultimately will lead to their downfall, as more tech-savvy lawyers take advantage of the cost-effective and time-saving opportunities the new medium provides.

Two of the most important Internet technologies affecting the legal profession in 2010 and beyond are social media or, as I like to call it, “intermedia,” and cloud computing. All lawyers with an interest in keeping their businesses afloat in the coming year would be wise to learn about and selectively use those two tech- nologies in their law practice.

In 2009, “social media” became a household term. Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter saw an explosive growth as more and more businesses realized the connection between networking online and business profits.

Not surprisingly, the legal field was not immune from the phenomenon. A good percentage of lawyers in the past year attempted to engage in intermedia in one form or another for the first time, as evidenced by a recent study of online networking in the profession.

The 2009 Networks for Counsel Study —available online here —was conducted by Leader Networks on behalf of LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell. Some key findings include:

  • Networking remains critical to the legal industry, yet resource constraints make it more difficult than ever.
  • The use of social networking sites has grown significantly over the past year, with three quarters of all counsel now reporting they are members of a social or professional network.
  • While some counsel take a “wait and see” attitude about the strategic value of the networks they’ve already joined, there is general belief online networking will change the business and practice of law over the next five years.

Like online networking, cloud computing —where applications, software and data are hosted by the cloud computing provider, offsite —also is gaining greater acceptance in the legal field. According to the Am Law Tech Survey 2009, 84 percent of responding law firms now use SaaS, a form of cloud computing, in some capacity. Most are using it for e-discovery or ancillary functions such as human resources, with only 7 percent use it to manage confidential client data.

As the concept becomes more familiar, however, more firms will use cloud computing for services such as document management or practice management. I predict those numbers will increase exponentially over the next few years as cloud computing providers adapt their products to respond to attorneys’ concerns about the confidentiality and security of their data.

The bottom line is this: Intermedia and cloud computing, once emerging technologies, are being accepted slowly by our profession. Lawyers who choose to ignore them, take heed: You do so at your own risk.

The writing is on the wall; the choice is yours. Learn about emerging technologies and adapt, or your profits will slowly, but surely, disappear.

We’re nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Whenever you’re ready, you’re welcome to join the rest of us in this century —the sooner, the better. We’ll be waiting.

The Evolution of Intermedia

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "The evolution of intermedia."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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For many lawyers, one of the greatest deterrents to interacting online is a mistaken impression that online networking is a purely “social” endeavor.

After all, as a profession, lawyers tend to take themselves very seriously, and socializing most certainly is a waste of their time —especially since attorneys tend to carefully track and bill each and every moment of the work day.

Our profession’s misapprehension regarding the interactions forming the very basis of Web 2.0 platforms is understandable. After all, online interaction is referred to commonly as “social media,” a name that implies the vast majority of online interaction consists of gossip and inane conversation. That, simply, is an inaccurate characterization. Online interaction runs the gamut, of course, but an increasingly large segment of interaction involves business and professional endeavors.

It is for that reason so many influential people in the online space are increasingly expressing displeasure with the term “social media,” a limiting, simplistic and inaccurate term. Web 2.0 platforms with built-in interactivity such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are being used more widely to conduct business, in promotional efforts, advertising and networking as well as hiring.

Accordingly, “social media” is much too shallow of a term. It fails to encompass the depth of online professional interaction and the sheer number of business transactions that occur on the “social” Web on a daily basis, as evidenced by recent
statistics regarding the increasing use of “social media” platforms by companies and consumers:

  • Social Media has overtaken porn as the top ranked activity on the Web. 
  • 80 percent of companies are using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees.
  • 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. 
  • More than 1.5 million pieces of content (Web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook daily. 
  • There are more than 200 million blogs online. 
  • 34 percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands. 
  • 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations. 
  • Only 14 percent of consumers trust advertisements.

Sources for those statistics can be found at the Socialnomics blog.

The statistics support the premise of the following quote, one of my favorites, from a February article published by Business Week "Debunking Six Social Media Myths”:

For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.

Of course, as I’ve already pointed out, lawyers continue to resist online engagement, in part because the perceived “social” aspect of online interaction seems silly and superfluous. For that reason, I propose that in the future the term “intermedia” be used, instead of “social media.” It is a more serious, palatable term — one that lawyers and other professionals resistant to emerging technologies more likely would accept.

Intermedia also better encompasses the depth and breadth of online interactions. It is another word for “interactive media,” which I view as the next —or, perhaps, current —stage of the Internet. Intermedia is where the world interacts, interconnects, interfaces, interweaves, intervenes and intersects. It is intergenerational, the intermediate, or next step, between what was and what will be. “Inter” means “put to rest” —and intermedia effectively has “put to rest” or
ended old school, one-way broadcast media.

The language used to describe new concepts is important because it shapes our dialogue and perceptions. The terms used to discuss the Internet and online interactions should evolve as quickly as the medium itself. Otherwise, the adoption of emerging technologies will be delayed —especially in fields like the legal profession, which traditionally are skeptical and suspicious of new technologies and therefore are slow to adapt.

The terminology used to discuss the phenomenon of online interaction must change, and quickly. The use of “intermedia” or a similar term in place of “social media” is the first, and most important step, in that evolution.


An open letter to future lawyers

Drlogo11

This week's Daily Record column is entitled "An open letter to future lawyers."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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I wanted to begin this week’s column by sharing a poem I wrote while in law school, an open letter to future lawyers:

I entered law school fearful and proud —yet knowing who I was
But the metamorphosis rudely and abruptly began.
As the classes … days … weeks passed, case after case
I became “Ms. Black” —someone I didn’t know.
Loneliness and insecurity became mine
And I reveled in my solitude.
All confidence I had in myself was lost
In some dusty old book in the corner of the library.
Perhaps if I sheperdize that book,
I might discover what has become of my self.
If it’s been overruled,
I’d like to know the new holding.
It seems I’ve gained knowledge
But lost my self.
I wonder how that would balance out
On the sacred scales of justice?

To the future lawyers of the world, know that those of us admitted to the bar once were where you are. Most of us still remember. We understand.

But we also know more than you. We’ve been doing this a lot longer than you have. Most of us know what we’re talking about.

So, rule 1: Respect your elders. We’ve got a lot to teach you. And, you’ve got a lot to learn.

Rule 2 is very important: You can’t have everything. You think you can, but you can’t. You’re naïve to think this, but it’s not your fault. You were spoon fed this nonsense as you were growing up, and the people who told you that you could have it all were cruel and negligent for doing so.

Life is all about compromise. Master that skill and you’ve got it made.

Rule 3 is very similar: Palsgraf is a life lesson. Life is unpredictable. Stuff happens. You can’t always control it or predict it.

Get used to it. That’s life. The skill is knowing how to deal with the unexpected-don’t let it throw you off track.

Rule 4: Perspective is everything. When life happens, roll with it as best you can. Alter your perspective and you alter your reality. Master this skill. It will take you far.

Rule 5 is simple: Success is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t let anyone else define success for you —not your parents, professors, career counselors or classmates. Only you know what success is for you. Delegate that determination at the risk of your happiness, stability and sanity.

Rule 6 also is an important one, so pay attention: Defy everyone’s expectations —don’t be an asshole. People think lawyers are jerks for a reason. Don’t live up to their expectations. Treat your clients, your colleagues, your staff and your opposition with respect.

Don’t be sleazy and underhanded. Don’t be arrogant. Avoid being pompous. Trust me, if you ignore this advice, it will come back to haunt you in the long run.

Rule 7:The law is not your mistress. Don’t buy into that idiocy. Your law degreesimply i s a means to an end. It’s a way to pay the bills and feed your family. Hopefully, it’s a fulfilling process for you. If not, then you’re not using your law degree in the right way.

Remember, rule 3 — stuff happens. If you don’t like the career path you’re on and it’s interfering with your life, reassess your path and alter your course.

Finally, rule 8: Do not let the law engulf you. You should not emerge from law school as a bruised and broken shell of the person you once were. Don’t let them do that to you. Retain your true essence. Never forget why you chose this path.

Always, always remember who you are. Never lose sight of you.