Ed Walters started as a lawyer in a big law firm in Washington D.C. In the late 1990’s, he was approached by a client asking him to research a relatively new legal issue without using LexisNexis or WestLaw, as they were trying to reduce online legal research costs. His inability to do this set off a chain of events leading him to create the company Fastcase. His story begs the question, are lawyers simply paying too much for online legal research sources? What are some ways particularly solo and small firm attorneys can reduce research overheads in their practice? And when is it necessary to pay for LexisNexis or WestLaw?
In this episode of New Solo, Adriana Linares interviews Ed Walters about his experience starting Fastcase, how it interacts with the bigger legal research companies and smaller startups, and the right steps for solo practitioners to take in choosing an online research source. Linares and Walters begin by discussing the differences between a free resource like Google Scholar, a mid-range company like Fastcase, and a larger company like LexisNexis. If an attorney has a boutique practice and needs treatises or specialized databases, Walters says, they will need a big online research company. Otherwise, the lawyer might be paying too much. He urges practitioners to check their local bar, state bar, and other associations or organizations for member benefits that often include research and even practice management tools. There are three startup companies that Walters encourages lawyers to research: Casetext, which focuses on crowdsourcing, Ravel Law, which uses data visualization, and Judicata, which uses semantic analysis to find relationships based on meanings. He encourages all lawyers, but especially those in small firms, to research different options and find the one that fits their practice best.
Ed Walters is the CEO and co-founder of Fastcase, an online legal research software company based in Washington D.C. Before founding Fastcase, Ed worked at Covington & Burling where his practice focused on corporate advisory work for software companies and sports leagues, and intellectual property litigation. He has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The University of Chicago Law Review, The Green Bag, and Legal Times, and has spoken extensively on legal publishing around the country. He is an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches The Law of Robots.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Solo Practice University.
The ABA TECHSHOW is an annual legal technology conference in Chicago, sponsored by the Law Practice Division of the ABA. The goal of the conference is to educate lawyers, legal professionals, and law firm employees on using technology in their practice. The 2015 conference will be held April 16th through the 18th, and will feature many new and recurring educational topics that are trending in legal technology. Want to find out if this conference will benefit your practice?
In this episode of The Digital Edge, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway interview the Chair of the ABA TECHSHOW Board, Brett Burney, about the 2015 conference, what attendees can expect, and why attendance is useful to almost anyone working in the legal field. The people who should attend, Burney says, are solo and small firm lawyers, government lawyers, members of corporate legal departments, and big firm lawyers. Additionally, law firm employees such as paralegals, legal assistants, CIOs, IT professionals, law firm administrators, office administrators, litigation support professionals, and many others will benefit from the educational value of the ABA TECHSHOW. He talks about this year’s legal technology topics such as cloud computing, a paperless office, digital security, and many others, and how the board selects speakers of quality and relevance. Burney discusses how having vendors and exhibitors at the conference can help users, why a legal professional should attend for the first time, and what’s new and cool for the 2015 conference. The ABA TECHSHOW comes highly recommended by past attendees for legal professionals at any level of tech experience, from novice to expert.
Brett Burney is the Chair of this year’s ABA TECHSHOW Board and is also the Principal of Burney Consultants LLC. He focuses the bulk of his time consulting on e-discovery and litigation support topics. He also works with lawyers who want to integrate Macs, iPhones, and iPads into their practice. Burney is a frequent contributor to Legal Technology News and speaks around the country on litigation support, e-discovery, Mac and iOS-related topics.
Apple products are gaining traction in the legal field, particularly among solo and small firm lawyers. As more software and apps are being created for Apple computers and law firms are working in the cloud, using Macs in your legal practice is becoming a better option for many attorneys. But often, it can be intimidating or seem challenging to make the switch to a new computer. Changing operating systems seems like an unnecessary added task, especially for already busy lawyers, but you might find that an Apple computer better suits your practice.
In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Heidi Alexander interviews Jenny Stevens, also known as Mrs. Mac Lawyer, about her switch from a PC law office to one using exclusively Apple products. Stevens was converted by her husband, The Mac Lawyer, when they merged their family law practices. She had the benefit of already having a cloud based office, so she was able to access all of her files and applications in the same way. She was also already using an iPhone so she understood the way that iOS works to a certain degree. Stevens explains that there was not much of a learning curve and she mostly had to adapt to new keyboard shortcuts. Switching from Microsoft Office to Mac applications Pages and Numbers was easy, she explains, and her practice improved when she added other apps such as Dropbox, Keynote, Rocket Matter, and Textexpander. While switching to a Mac is certainly not for everyone, Stevens encourages attorneys who are thinking of making the switch to jump in with both feet. When she didn’t have access to her PC, she learned to use the Mac much faster.
Jenny Stevens co-owns and practices family law at the Stevens Firm in South Carolina with her husband. Before they merged, Stevens worked for an all PC law office in Charleston, South Carolina. She has nicknamed herself Mrs. Mac Lawyer and frequently contributes to The Mac Lawyer, a blog about using Apple products in your legal practice. Jenny is also a frequent speaker at local, state, and national continuing legal education seminars.
In this month’s Asked and Answered podcast, moderator Stephanie Francis Ward talks to Linda Greenhouse and Jonathan Turley about the past, present and future of legal journalism, and how it has influenced courts. Greenhouse reported on the U.S. Supreme Court for the New York Times for four decades, and is now the Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law and Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence at Yale Law School. Turley is an attorney, legal scholar and professor at George Washington University Law School and is a legal analyst for several media outlets.
Linda Greenhouse is the Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law and Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence at Yale Law School. That follows a 40-year career at the New York Times, where she covered the U.S. Supreme Court. She currently writes a biweekly op-ed column about the Supreme Court for the New York Times website.
Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, focuses his academic work on constitutional matters, legal theory and tort law. He also writes an eponymous blog; is a member of USA Today’s board of contributors; and had done legal analyst work for CBS and NBC.
Every new year brings a new opportunity to “start fresh” and get something done that you might not have accomplished in the previous year. As we look ahead to 2015, we start to think about our legal technology resolutions for the coming year. There are often new technologies for lawyers that did not exist in the previous years and new ways of automating or organizing their lives. What are some specific, measurable, actionable, and realistic legal tech goals that can be made for the coming year?
In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss their personal legal technology resolutions for 2015, how to get started making your own technology resolutions, and how last year’s resolutions have turned out. The hosts first suggest some general resolutions including turning on Find My iPhone, going paperless, using a password manager, and backing up in 3 different ways. They then talk about their own resolutions. Kennedy aspires to prune down his data intake from things such as podcasts and rss feeds, look into automating as many repetitive tasks as possible, revisit old systems which might be improved by 2015 technologies including the cloud, broadband access, increased storage, or processing power, and to simply try something new. Mighell is looking to learn new Microsoft Office skills in Access, Excel, and Project, start creating more content for his blogs, try a new platform with Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and also automate repetitive tasks using If This Then That and other tools. Both hosts express that it is important for lawyers to increase their technology experience each year and resolutions are a useful way to structure and inspire new learning.
In the second half of the podcast, Kennedy and Mighell review and analyze the legal technology resolutions they set for 2014. Mighell wished to learn about his new Mac and be able to work on multiple platforms and get his certification in privacy. Kennedy aspired to revamp his website, become a successful Evernote user, and take his backup to the next level. Tune in to hear whether they achieved their goals.
There has been a rapid growth in electronically stored information that is potentially useful for e-discovery in litigation. Because more data storage means higher costs, organizations are searching for new ways to store their information efficiently and cost effectively while at the same time not limiting access throughout discovery, a process which can sometimes last for months or years. It is important for litigators and large companies to understand what their options are for data storage and hosting cost flexibility. A process called “nearlining” provides a relatively simple solution to this problem of expensive data storage.
On this episode of the ESI Report, host Michele Lange interviews discovery product director Andrea Gibson and civil litigator Brian Calla about data storage costs, the nearlining process, the formatting of data storage, and other innovations in document review. Gibson explains that data access is not necessarily to all data, but to the appropriate data for any point in time, which can change throughout the life of an investigation, regulatory review, or litigation. The challenge lies in keeping volume of information reduced while maintaining access to what’s important. Nearlining, she says, is a capability by which you can store data that isn’t currently necessary, making the active data footprint smaller and greatly reducing electronic information storage costs. Calla, who often deals with e-discovery, discusses how nearlining works with his clients’ needs. Often, they wish to collect too much data initially. In this case he uses predictive coding to weed out unnecessary data and nearlines it for potential later need. When a project or review is finished, he will nearline all documents that are coded not responsive. Gibson and Calla finish by discussing other data storage innovations they each use to reduce costs including reformatting, predictive coding, and automatic redactions.
Brian Calla is a member at Eckert Seamans in Pittsburgh, PA. He concentrates his practice in general civil litigation with a particular emphasis on e-discovery, mass tort litigation and products liability. Calla serves as an Electronic Discovery Special Masters (EDSM) panel member for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Andrea Gibson is the Director of Product for Discovery Solutions at Kroll Ontrack, specifically working on the ediscovery.com Review product line. She has more than 10 years of direct experience as a litigator and legal consultant.
There are numerous sources in the legal world claiming that lawyers need to work on building and growing their networks in order to gain referrals. But with hundreds of connections, how is a solo lawyer able to build and develop proper relationships with everyone? Maybe lawyers should be thinking about the quality of their connections rather than the quantity. What should a solo or small firm attorney do to build a good referral network?
In this episode of New Solo, Adriana Linares interviews family law practitioner Lee Rosen about forming strategic partnerships and setting up a basic referral network. Rosen actually rejects both of those phrases and explains that he thinks of an effective referral network as a collection of close friends who provide value to each other in multiple ways. Lawyers should build relationships with around twenty other lawyers and people in different professions who have the opportunity to provide referrals. Also, he says, you need to LIKE these people, because they will be your friends for the rest of your practice. Once you have found the right twenty connections, use things like social media to maintain these relationships. At the end of the podcast, Rosen explains three important takeaways for solo lawyers: be interested in the other people, be deliberate and calculating when you choose connections, and pick up the phone and start calling people today. He believes this form of networking will grow your practice and make you happy.
Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than 20 years, with four offices in Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He served as the Law Practice Management editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Kean Award for excellence in elawyering. He also served as chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. He’s a frequent speaker, often sought out by media as a source of family law insight and commentary and the publisher of DivorceDiscourse.com, a widely popular daily advice blog about law firm marketing, management, and finances.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Solo Practice University.
As friends, colleagues, and clients documented their Thanksgiving holiday on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it was made clear how big a role social media plays in the personal and professional lives of lawyers. Because it is so prevalent and necessary, social media can also be very overwhelming for many who are trying to maintain their online presence. But most lawyers know that engaging with others on social media is not optional anymore. So should they be posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and all other mediums? How many reposts, “likes,” or comments are the right amount? What is a good system or management tool for self-promotion or law firm marketing? Now is a good time to take stock of your social media use and try to control it before it controls you.
In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the overwhelming nature of social media, ways lawyers can manage their personal or professional social media, and moving past the guilt of not posting or engaging enough. Kennedy discusses being a “grumpy old man” with the changes in social media that result in ads, sponsored posts, promoted tweets in his various feeds. He also analyzes posting on social media versus consuming information through it and the guilt he feels from not commenting or engaging enough with other people’s posts. Mighell breaks down his process which includes writing a blog and then promoting it using what he considers the most important social mediums for lawyers: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Both use a social media dashboard like Hootsuite to manage posting and try to automate the process as much as possible. They also encourage lawyers to choose one or two social media platforms to focus on in order to not become overwhelmed, actually enjoy the process, and have a lot of influence in one place instead of a little influence everywhere. Don’t forget, social media information consumption is like dipping a cup into a river and only catching a small sample.
In the second part of the podcast, Kennedy and Mighell discuss their favorite technology gifts and guides for the holiday season. Kennedy reminds everyone to think of the recipient when purchasing tech gifts and keep things practical. Mighell gives some specific gift suggestions including the Moto 360 Watch, Logitech Keys to Go, and Jaybird Bluebuds X Bluetooth headphones as well as gift guides from The Verge and The Wirecutter.
As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast end.
Social media is an easy (and often free) tool that litigators can use to share their clients’ stories. But how much is too much, and what if you post something that you’ll regret later?
In this month’s Asked & Answeredpodcast, we speak with Anthony C. Johnson, a plaintiffs personal injury lawyer who previously owned a search engine optimization and marketing company. He shares with moderator Stephanie Francis Ward some ideas about using Twitter, Facebook—and even Instagram—in a mindful manner.
Anthony C. Johnson, an Arkansas plaintiffs personal injury lawyer, is a partner with Johnson & Vines and the CEO and Founder of the American Injury Attorney Group. Johnson is a former SEO/SEM/Web-development company owner who was featured by the ABA Journal as one of “America’s Techiest Lawyers” in 2012.
There has been recent talk of a “Podcast Renaissance,” in which podcasts are better than ever and people have begun to appreciate the value of the podcast medium for education and entertainment. Who are we to disagree? There are educational podcasts, political podcasts, legal podcasts, technology podcasts, entertainment podcasts, and podcasts that combine subjects. There are podcasts that review books, recordings from live radio shows, lecture recordings, and informational interviews. With all of these options, how are people finding and listening to the podcasts that are right for them, how have these processes changed, and why are some people not listening to podcasts at all? Are podcast listeners only touching the surface of the potential value?
In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the fundamentals of podcast listening and subscribing, ways to enhance your podcast listening experience, and suggestions of their favorite podcasts. Kennedy provides a technical description of podcasts, delivery of media (usually audio) online through an RSS feed, but explains that they also tend to be episodic, you can subscribe to them, and they serve as a radio replacement. His system of podcasting involves researching topics or speakers that spark his interest, filtering and organizing individual podcasts by length, and listening to them at 1.5X the speed while he commutes or works out. He notes that podcasts are becoming more popular because of increased user control and the ability to use them on any device: iPod, tablet, smartphone, laptop, or desktop. Mighell adds that the rise in podcasting is due to increasingly sophisticated apps that allow users to speed up the podcasts, create categories, and control downloads. His alternative system of podcast listening is more streamlined. He subscribes to 20 or 30 regular podcasts and downloads, organizes, and listens to them all on his phone while walking the dog, in the car, or working out. Both hosts use Huffduffer, but Mighell uses it to create a mini feed for things that aren’t syndicated while Kennedy uses it as a search engine for podcast topics or speakers that interest him.
While it is helpful to suggest different ways of consuming podcasts, listeners might also be interested in podcast suggestions. In the second part of the show, the hosts share their favorite podcasts. Tom Mighell mostly listens to podcasts that help him keep up with trends in technology, news, and politics, although he also enjoys Serial from the creators of This American Live. Dennis Kennedy’s collection of podcasts range from news, sports, and business, to entertainment anyone could enjoy.
As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast end.