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How A Lawyer Can Control Their To-Do List With Task Managers and Technology
While preparing for a trial, gathering documents for a transaction, or simply running errands, most lawyers face each day with an overwhelming number of things to get done. From simply remembering them all to putting the list into proper priorities, every legal professional could use some help. How can technology play a role in bringing the list of to-dos under control? What are some questions lawyers should ask when choosing a to-do task management tool?
In this episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss taming the to-do list, their own approaches to using technology to help with task management, and questions every lawyer should ask when looking for a management tool to suit their needs. Kennedy shapes his list management around David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” a system which allows him to see his weekly calendar as a big picture and sort priorities to avoid being overwhelmed by the enormous list of projects. Mighell says lawyers should watch for eight essential functions when looking for the right task manager:
- Available on Multiple Platforms
- Ease of Entry
- Recurring Tasks
- Multi-List Capable
- Assign Priority Levels
- GTD Functionality
- Notes and Attachments
- Ability to Share Task Lists
He recommends every lawyer weigh the importance of each of these before choosing a task management tool. Both @DennisKennedy and @TomMighell stress that this is a personal choice and ask the listeners for feedback on the to-do technologies they like best. After the break, Kennedy and Mighell discuss the recent tech news story about Russian cybercriminals accumulating a hoard of more than a billion user passwords. They examine whether lawyers should be worried about this data breach, and what they should do to protect their online accounts. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.View transcript
Web 2.0. Innovation. Trend. Collaboration. Software. Broadcast. Virtual R. Got the world turning as fast as it can? Hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to the Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: Welcome to Episode 133 of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in Saint Louis.
Tom Mighell: I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode we talked about the big idea of productization of legal services and ways current technology might help enable that. In this episode, we wanted to talk about a small idea with big importance in something we have to deal with every day. Tom, what’s on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell:Well in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, we’ll be talking about the humble task list. The to do list, the ongoing battle to keep from being overwhelmed by all that we have to do. In our second segment we’ll discuss what you might want to do in response to recent stories of the Russian cybercriminals harvesting over a billion names and passwords, and as usual we’ll finish up with our parting shot. That one tip, Web site or observation, that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over.
First, our first segment and our main topic and that’s taming your to do list. We all keep tasks lists or to do lists for some reason for some reason. We might be getting ready for a trial. We might be making sure we have all the documents we need for a transaction. We might just be making a checklist for what we’re going to be running errands for over the weekend. I know a lot of people think of to do lists as sort of a necessary evil. There’s something that we all need to keep organize, but if we don’t manage them properly, I think that to do lists can actually cause more harm than, than good. Dennis, are to do lists part of the solution or are they part of the problem?
Dennis Kennedy: I think they’re both. They’re both a blessing and a curse. You’re right, it’s how you manage them. I think that some of it always seems like a good idea, especially when you have a lot of things going on that you want to have, as you said the humble to do list to say, okay here’s what I have to do today or here’s what I like to do today and maybe roughly in this order and that’s important for organizing your day and especially as you start to have many projects on your, on your plate then it becomes really essential to keep track of things.
A lot of people use their e-mail inbox as a to do list and it’s easy to overlook things as volume comes up. The to do list seems like a good solution, however where I think it can be part of the problem is that when you do have so many things on your to do list that you start a day, and I don’t know what the magic number is. I sort of think that it’s, it’s certainly a 10, but maybe a little bit before that, but once you get past 10 items on a to do list for a day, you just start out the day feeling overwhelmed. I think as you get the long to do lists and I remember many years ago a friend of mine showing me a to do list he was maintaining in Outlook and Outlook would do this thing where you could assign dates and if it was overdue it would show that task of to do in red and he showed me the list of things he had to do and it looked like there were hundreds of these red items. It’s like making you guilty-
Tom Mighell: (Laughs).
Dennis Kennedy: … every day too, and so that I think becomes a part of the, of the to do list management and when I think about taming it, it’s sort of like how, how do I bring the things I need to work on in front of me in a regular way without feeling overwhelmed or without feeling guilty over all the stuff I haven’t got done.
Tom Mighell:I know, and I think that that’s one reason why I, I’m not a big fan of using tools like Outlook for my task lists. I think that the way that they’ve gone about and structured it, it just isn’t really conducive for being successful about keeping a task list. I, I’m not sure I … and I know that what you say about if you have more than 10 things to do on your task list then sometimes you probably wind up getting less done than if you just have two or three things and I know reading productivity sites they say pick the three biggest things you’re going to do today.
I guess I have a slightly different approach to doing it and that is that it doesn’t bother me so much. It doesn’t bother me so much having 10 things on my task list, as long as I am able to prioritize that list in order of importance and maybe make the top three things that I need to do for the day rise to the top of my list so that if I finish them, if I get done with them, then I can see what else is on my list and I can do it, but if I don’t then I know that that rolls over into another day or to another time and I can postpone it.
I can deal with it because it wasn’t as high a priority I think that we all have slightly different approaches to how we like to do task lists and to do lists and I think that’s what make for me anyway something like this podcast a little bit difficult because everybody’s going to have a little bit of different way that they like to manage their tasks. I mean that you and I probably have different ways of doing that too. In terms of how people approach task lists, Dennis how do you … or how do you approach task lists? How do you want to talk about the different approaches people have?
Dennis Kennedy: Well I think you’re right that people do things in different ways and so that’s an important takeaway I think for everyone from this podcast and why I think it, it makes sense and why we wanted to talk about the different ways that we do things to give people some ideas of what’s out there. I think that, that really and especially if you use technology in connection with, with your to do list that you really want to find the technology that meshes with the actual approach that you have or really fits it or else you find a tool that you’re willing to commit to and then change your normal practice of, of managing tasks to fit that, that tool.
In some ways I think as simple as that may sound, that first of all is more difficult than it sounds, but I think that’s probably the best way to go is trying to get that good fit. In my case and if I go back and look at how I’ve done things, you know I’m, you know I sometimes have multiple lists and I’ve done things on paper. I have this really, for a long time I had this really interesting grid system that I probably should have posted on my blog or something at some point just to get some feedback on, but for me I went back to … I think the most important thing for me in the whole history of my to do lists is David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
Tom, you and I have talked over the years about David Allen’s approach and it’s a hard one to commit to but it just really appealed to me in a lot of ways and it’s called GTD. His book is Getting Things Done and there’s a couple of really important parts of it. One is to get everything you’re doing out of your head and into, into a list or a tool to help you manage that. Another thing is to, to assign context to your tasks, so you say oh, if I’m at a computer here are the things I might do. If I have 15 minutes where I’m in a waiting room somewhere, here are the things I can do. If I’m watching TV and want to multitask, here are other things I can do.
That context of things is very important and then his other key thing is the next, I always call it the next physical action. I can’t remember whether he just calls it the next action or next physical action, which is to say I have this project or something that I want to do and if I break it down into the next action or a chunk where I say if I have on my list oil change, it may take me a long time to actually get around to that but if on my list is call car dealer to make appointment for oil change, then the oil change flows because I picked the next thing I actually physically have to do which is make a phone call and the context is when I’m, when I have a phone and that allows me to get things done. For a lot, so that’s been my approach.
A lot of times I did that using paper, and I’ve always looked … I mean I’ve tried a number of different approaches with technology, and we’ll come back to that, but Tom I know your approach to to do’s has been somewhat different and perhaps in part because I think I have not that you don’t have a huge volume but I always feel like I have a huge volume of, of to do items.
Tom Mighell: Well I have a pretty decent sized list of to do items and frankly I kind of follow a what I call a modified GTD. There are a lot of things that I like about the Getting Things Done methodology that makes sense. I’ve always been a fan of getting to Inbox zero or at least getting to Inbox zero by, by dealing with e-mail the way that David Allen talks about, but I just can’t find a way to make all of the, all of his methodology work for me when it comes to to do lists, and specifically I am a great believer in getting everything out of my mind.
Whenever something appears in my mind, I need to get it out and that’s … and we’re going to talk about the technology in just a second. That’s a huge issue for me. The ability to get it out fast and get it into a to do list is a big deal and so because if I don’t get it out, I’ll forget it. I’ll come back later when it’s too late and, and so that’s an important feature. Context, not so much. To me doing the context really doesn’t do a ton for me because I don’t want to have to sit there and think, now is this something that I want to do while I’m multitasking. Is it something that I want to do while I’m in the waiting room.
I don’t … I, I just can’t quite get into that, that level of granularity and frankly I’m not, I’m also not a big fan of the next step. It’s not that I’m not a fan of it, it’s just … That seems to be too much work for me. I take a much more laid back approach to GTD, but I think ultimately I hopefully get to the same place. I think that we, you and I may have slightly different approaches there. I think we’re probably also using slightly different technology and I think frankly both you and I recently came to using new technology, came to use new technologies in the, in the recent past. We’ve just started using new things for our task management. Do you want to talk a little bit about yours first?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, and I think that’s what prompted this episode was that we both have started using new technology. I … Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of different things to implement my version of GTD including trying to put together some things in Outlook in Evernote. I think I’ve even tried spreadsheets at some point. What’s been sitting out there for me a long time is a program called, OmniFocus and which is designed to really parallel the GTD system. The big drawback for me was it’s a $99.00 program.
A few months ago I reached this program where I just felt that I just could not keep up with, with all the stuff I had going on. Every day I just felt like I was looking at 20, 25 things and not feeling like I’m making any progress which is an important thing when you’re doing to do lists is to try to build in some sort of feedback loop where you give yourself credit for the stuff that you do get done. I looked at OmniFocus again and there was a new version that was coming out and so I went ahead and said look this is, I got to get this system to work for me and I, and I need some help and so $99.00 this is my big lesson here especially for lawyers to get on top of what’s going on on your, in your day to day tasks is a fairly small price to pay.
I started with this, this tool and with the idea of I did a bunch of mind maps and I did all these other things try … And my other list of things, everything that I was working on. Different projects. I’ve divided things between personal and work and so OmniFocus I use for personal stuff which includes the writing, podcast, other stuff that I do, home projects, all of that which was were starting to take a bigger role in what I do. I do have this sort of weird split system between home and work and I may go into that a little bit in the podcast or may not but OmniFocus really and especially this new version I think really fit what I want to do and allowing me to adapt the GTD system.
Also the big thing, the biggest thing for me that, that works is this notion of triage which OmniFocus allows. I can have all these different task items and I can put dates on them and I can categorize them by the projects they’re in, the context, all these different things to slice and dice it, but when I look at the calendar which I just did earlier tonight for the week, I can just take things and sort of triage it. I say look, there’s 25 things that are on my list for Monday. I just take a look at that list, I go oh, that can be bumped up a day. That can be bumped up, that can go to next week.
I can move these things around so that tomorrow I’ll have a much smaller focused list of the things I actually seem to have priority and that I have the energy to do. That’s what I think is the big thing about OmniFocus is first that it does allow me to implement the GTD approach, but it allows this really important notion for me of triage to say, I can push things ahead and I can sort priorities and it’s okay not to do things on a certain day. It just might not be the right day to do that. That’s what I like about OmniFocus and then I also got it for my iPhone so that I have synchronization across, so I can see the list in, in several places, so far I’m about three months into the experiment. It’s an A plus for me. Tom, what’s your new approach?
Tom Mighell: Well, I was glad when you mentioned this because I actually had, when you mentioned this topic and doing it on the podcast because I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately as well and I actually just wrote an article for Law Practice Magazine. It’s going to show up in a couple of months after this podcast is published, but when I was, when I was going through looking at different task managers, I’ve been a big fan for a long time of a to list Web app called Remember the Milk.
It allows you to create smart lists and combine lists together and all sorts of things and, I, I think that it’s been a very good app but it wasn’t getting me exactly what I needed from a to do list, so I sat down and I thought about what are the features that are important to me and maybe to other people in to do lists and I came up with eight features that I think are important when I’m, when I was looking for something and the first one for me is that it be platform agnostic. That … which means it’s going to be Web based, so that I can get it on my Mac computer, I can get it on my Windows computer, I can get it on my Android phone, I can get it on my iPad as well.
That’s probably what ruled out OmniFocus for me because OmniFocus is IOS limited to that and I can’t get that on my phone. That’s probably the only reason why I wouldn’t … I wasn’t using something like OmniFocus because I think otherwise it does everything I would want it to do. I want my tool to have ease of entry, which means whenever I need to get something out of my head, it’s just a couple of clicks and I can do it.
What I really like about the to do list app that I have right now is that it has a, a widget on my Android phone that I just press one button and it opens up a little entry form to enter the task in. I don’t have to open the app up at all. I can just enter the task and it’s done. It automatically gets added. I can e-mail tasks to my list very easily. I can do it from within Gmail and enter tasks. It gives you lots and lots of ways to do it. I like the ability to have recurring tasks.
I have things that I want to get done every Monday or ever Friday or every weekend, and I like that they just appear on time and that’s what I want my to do list to do. I want them to be multi-list capable. I want them to either be able to have different lists by project. Different lists by cases, or things like that. I know some to do list apps just give you one long list of tasks and I don’t, I don’t want that.
I like the ability to assign priority levels, like I talked about before, 1, 2, 3, or 4 so I can, I can have the, the more important tasks float to the top of the list. GTD functionality like you mentioned Dennis, I think is also important if you’re, if you’re into that. If that’s something that you want to do. The ability to have notes and attachments added to your, added to your tasks I think is also important and then if you’re working with somebody, the ability to share tasks lists I think can also be an important feature. Probably less important for me, but definitely something that others might want to, want to consider.
After all of that, I took a look at lots of … I’ve took a look at probably 6, or 7, 8 different task managers and the one that I wound up liking is one that, it’s been around for a while, I know some people like it but a lot of people haven’t heard of, it’s called TODOIST.com. It’s TODOIST.com. It really meets the most important features. I can get it on my Android phone or my MAC, on my Windows computer, on my IPad. I can get stuff in very easily.
The ability to create recurring tasks with just a couple of, a couple of keystrokes is really simple and easy and intuitive and it kind of does what you talk about, you know, tomorrow morning I’m going to wake up, I’m going to see my to do list. It’ll probably be like you say 25 things on it, but I’ll realize that a lot of those things I don’t have to get done tomorrow and I can easily put them off until later in the week or another time when I can do them. I really do like this app a lot. It makes a lot of sense for me.
Some of the other apps that I looked at and I’ll put them in the show notes. I’ll put links in our wunder list, W-U-N-D-E-R list. They actually just refreshed their user interface and it’s supposed to be much better than actually when I was reviewing it, so I may go back and take a look at them at some point. I still do like Remember the Milk a lot. It still is a very powerful tool.
Any.do, D-O, is another one. A lot of people like, Toodledo. T-O-O-D-L-E-D-O, and then a lot of people use the reminders app in IOS. That’s probably to me the least, the least frills and, and the least functionality but sometimes people just need something that’s simple and basic. The two apps that I know some people use for to do lists that I just don’t think I could ever recommend. I know you mentioned it before Dennis, Evernote. OneNote. I know a lot of people create to do lists in there. I think that’s a mistake. It … one the ability to create recurring tasks. The ability to prioritize, it’s good if you just want to have a flat, static, linear to do list somewhere. You can’t sort or organize them by cate-case or project or anything like that. If that’s all you need, then that’s fine but that’s … Those really are the tools that I would, I would think about using when I would want something a little bit more dynamic than that.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, Tom I really like … The thing you … I think your list of the 8 things is really great. I really … the one I want to highlight is this recurring notion. I really like that in, in OmniFocus. You can do a number of, of things and it has a lot of flexibility for how you set those recurring tasks, so you can do something like for me every second Saturday I, I can say library books due or I can put … I do this with my prescription refills. I put a recurring thing after how many week, so that a task comes up there at the appropriate time to remind me to refill prescriptions.
You can do all sorts of things like that on, on recurring and that’s, that’s really helpful because that automates a lot your to do, your to do lists and there are people like David Sparks and other people out there who are power OmniFocus users who have all sorts of different automation techniques. Looking for a program will do some of that can also be useful. I do want to mention Outlook tasks because I do use those at work and I just want to highlight one way that I do them and I think could be, could be helpful to people.
A lot of times you get, as a lawyer you get a question or the initiation of some kind of project or something that will come by an e-mail. What I like to do is when I get that type of e-mail, you can just drag the e-mail onto the task, sort of on the left-hand side of the menu and it will turn that e-mail into a task so the body of the e-mail will be in the task and then you have the Outlook task, you can put a due date on it. You can say that you’re waiting on someone. You can do a number of simple thing with it but it puts something on your task list and associates all the information in the e-mail with it and that, that is really kind of handy if you are using Outlook as a task manager. There are ways to do it.
Like I said, what always scared me about Outlook was the way that it, you could see all these things that were overdue and, and for some people that’s motivation, for me that just gave me a sense of, of despair. Tom, I, I … one of the big things I think in task lists and you mentioned this too is the whole notion of synchronization, so when you make a change when you add something it gets synchronized to all your devices and being able to see that list across all of your devices. You want to talk a little bit about that?
Tom Mighell: I do. I just want to say first about, about Outlook tasks. I use Outlook tasks too for a very limited purpose and that’s when I get an e-mail that I need to follow up on, I’ll usually flag it in Outlook knowing that I need to follow up on that, but the challenge though is, is that I don’t, I don’t use that as my primary task list so I need to go over to my to do list, to my regular task manager. I need to actually put the task in there and then when it’s time to do the task that I can do.
I can then head to my task list in Outlook, a task list in Outlook and it’s sitting there ready for me to address but frankly the main reason why I don’t use Outlook is because specifically because of what we just talked about now and that is its lack of synchronization. Is that I can with, with Outlook I’d be able to synchronize with every device on which I had Exchange, Microsoft Exchange or was able to get to my Outlook tasks, but that’s few and far between. I don’t have the same ability to get that on my Android phone or my iPad the same way that I would on an Windows device and I think that’s a real problem.
For me, I think what’s important is not only that I can open up my phone and I can have my task list if I happen to go out for the day and I complete a task, I’ve got it there and when I get back into the office that task is gone from the list, but it’s really just being able to ac-to me it’s the, the benefit of it is having anywhere, anytime access to it because frankly you never know when you’re going to have an, an idea that you need, something you needed to accomplish and just being able to press a button on, on your phone or something like that and enter a task very quickly and then have it sitting there waiting for you at your office when it’s time to, to get back to work and do things, I think really is tremendously helpful.
We’ve been going on a lot for, a lot of talking about task lists and I think in more of a generic way so Dennis, why don’t you give some, I guess some closing thoughts here for this segment on, on why this helps lawyers? What’s in it for lawyers especially in using a to do list manager, or task manager like what we’ve been talking about.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, sometimes I always used to be jealous of litigators because they just would be working on one thing at a time, and so it was easy for them to do their time during the day because they were just working on the one project. A lot of lawyers have a lot of different things going on that they might touch during, during the day. Might have a lot of deadlines trying to decide what priorities, things to start, things you’re waiting to get back from people.
One of the things about the Getting Things Done approach that I think is great is the waiting on category. If you have a list of things that you’re waiting on people to get back from, you know that you’ve done what you need to do, but you’re still waiting because of the back and if that shows up on your to do list that you’re expecting something to come back that can help you prioritize and do other things. I think that the to do list for lawyers I think help you with getting your day in order, setting priorities.
I think they can be especially useful in working with deadlines and in breaking projects into manageable chunks. You can use a to do list to say on a routine basis that when you put the deadline but also, three days, seven days, whatever, before a deadline have that show up as a to do item. When I’m speaking, I know that I have to do handout materials, I have to do PowerPoint slides, I have to do … I might have to do travel, I might have to do other things.
If I conceive of that speaking engagement as a project that has these different components I can put those to do’s into my to do manager and they’ll show up on a certain date as something to do and then I don’t have to, to think that through and there are just modular things I can do. For lawyers that’s something you can do as well, depending on the type of, of work you do, the matter you’re working on. You set up all the components of that and turn them into to do’s for you and then as I said, when it comes up if it’s not time to do that or you’re waiting on something, you can bump it ahead a day or two or a week or whatever you need to do.
The other thing I think can be helpful for lawyers who have a lot of things going on where sometimes your day is getting out of control is having that to do list can help you go back for those who record their time by hand, to actually figure out what it was you might have done that day because you do have that list of the things you were planning to do and that will help you structure your, your billable time rather than get at the, the end of the day and wondering what the heck it was that you did that day.
I think, I guess Tom for me the big learning for me in the last few months was that it’s okay to spend money on this because this is really an important, important thing to do and $99.00 to give me the, the more peace of mind I have, even though there’s still a lot of things I need to do but to have a better sense of control than I felt a few months ago was a real bargain for me. I think for other people that there are a lot of cool tools out there. Tom and I have given some examples, but it’s definitely an area to explore and it’s one of those places where technology for not a lot of money can really help you feel less overwhelmed, get in control of your day, and in a lot of ways, do a better job and help you get better organized and, and just make your life a little bit easier.
Tom Mighell: What are the cool tools that you out there in the listening audience use? Are there tools that we didn’t mention that you like as far as task managers or to do lists? Let us know. Send us a Tweet or an e-mail. I’ll give you that information at the end of the show and we’ll include it in the show notes for this particular show. Before we move onto our next segment, let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsor.
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Tom Mighell: Now let’s get back to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: I’m Dennis Kennedy. Since our last podcast one of the biggest tech news stories has been about Russian cybercriminals cumulating a hoard of more than a billion user names and passwords. Now there are actually quite a few conflicting details on this story and Bruce Schneier on his Schneier on Security blog is a great resource on this and there’s some interesting discussion out there as to exactly what’s involved in this.
To me the really interesting thing was that they were planning to use it for their spam business rather than to break into, to break into accounts which is interesting, kind of an interesting … It gives you an interesting perspective on, on how valuable the spam business still is, if that’s what they’re using it for and that’s their priority. I thought we would talk about this story and for me I don’t know Tom, maybe we can assume that it’s generally true and just talk about what a good response would be for people when you hear stories like this. Passwords just seem to be an unavoidable topic these days. Tom, is, is this yet another password freakout moment?
Tom Mighell: Well I, I think that I’m going to take a different approach and, and not assume the truth of it because everything that I’ve read about it makes me very skeptical and I think if you go, Dennis mentioned Bruce Schneier. If you go to his website, I think he’s skeptical about it too and that skepticism spreads over a bunch of different Web sites and, and here are some of the things that I, that I discovered just from what I read when I was looking at the, the issue.
The first thing is, that it’s not clear whether these passwords were recently stolen or whether the bad guys just came in possession of them over time. I think that some think that this is sort of an accumulation of old, bad passwords over a longer period of time which makes it a much less interesting and I guess less important story. I think the second thing is the number that they originally quoted was 1.2 billion passwords. That’s a lot. That’s more than Facebook has, has members. You would assume that they belong at least to some major companies who would announce the breach.
I think it’s really interesting that the company that announced this called “Whole Security” they refused to announce any companies that were affected, saying it was all under investigation. You don’t hear any major law enforcement organizations investigating this, so I’m not sure who’s doing the investigation. Why we haven’t heard from anybody. Maybe they all want to keep it silent, but generally that’s not what we’ve been seeing when there have been data breaches out there. Like you mentioned Dennis, the bad guys aren’t using these passwords to hack into accounts or to commit fraud or to commit identity theft. They’re using it to commit, to send spam which I, I guess can be lucrative in itself, but one of the things Bruce Schneier says, is he says that the fact that they’re doing this proves how secure that the Internet really is. That we’re not seeing massive fraud or theft as a result of this issue.
Then I guess finally call me, call me skeptical, but the fact that Whole Security immediately told consumer that they can protect themselves by paying $120.00 a year for a monitoring service, kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I suppose that what I take away from this right now and we’ll get to passwords in just a second is that, is that maybe we’re getting to the time where we shouldn’t adopt a chicken little, the sky is falling approach for every story that we have.
We need to take, take a breath, step back, look and see what’s going on, see the truth of it. See whether our current methods are working of protecting ourselves, because maybe that’s all that it is. Maybe right now we’re at an age where we’re seeing some things that may either not be happening or may not be as important as we think they are.
That said, should you change your passwords? I think that if you’re the kind of person that is keeping mul … the same passwords for multiple sites, I definitely think you should change your passwords because especially if you’re using the same password for your e-mail as you’re using for other sites because it becomes easier for these folks to be able to get into your e-mail and spoof it or send spam out on your behalf and I think that certainly is, is an issue that you want.
I will never, ever tell people not to go and change your passwords or, or use a password manager to make better use and management of your passwords. If you feel concerned about this, maybe it’s a good time and do a refresh on, on the passwords for your major sites but also the smaller sites too. I’m not, I’m still taking a wait and see attitude about this because I’m not convinced that this is the, the huge story that at least the New York Times put it out to be. Dennis, am I taking too laissez faire an attitude to this?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I think the fact is we just don’t know and that there was a lot of, just a lot of focus on it on day one and then I think it’s good, a good approach when you hear these stories is to go to Bruce Schneier’s blog. It’s … he’s usually up on all of the stuff and has reasonable approaches to things. I don’t know where it is. It’s one of those things you got to pay attention to and it gives you, I think all these things give you a good occasion to think about what it is that you’re doing with passwords and security, multi-factor authentication, all those … so there’s a lot of techniques out there.
When I thought about this, it gave me pause about not so much like my current important stuff which the, the user names and passwords that have been out there for, for years and probably accounts I haven’t used or haven’t used for a long time that go back to the sort of older days of password approaches where you had shorter passwords. You didn’t pay as much attention as you now do to things. You certainly didn’t use strong passwords, but it’s probably a bunch of that stuff for a lot of us that’s sitting out there. It was a good reminder to think, think about the implications of some of those things and then also to think about what passwords haven’t you changed for a long, long time and it makes sense to update those. Then I … there are some things that are important and like some of the e-mail things and financial accounts and stuff like where when you see stuff like that, what’s … it’s just a good idea to go ahead and change and then also look at the multi-factor authentication.
Tom Mighell: Yeah, it’s … I think being able to go back to older passwords is really important. That’s why I’m really glad to see that some of the password managers like Lastpass and more recently One Password, have these features that you can do a security check on your current passwords and it’ll tell you, for Lastpass it’ll tell me when I last used the password, the strength of that password, it’ll tell me whether it’s been involved in a compromise, whether that Web site was involved in a compromise any time in the past couple of years.
I think a very useful tool to be able to see which of my passwords are strong, which of them really should be strengthened a little bit and I frankly use Lastpass that way all the time. I do the security check, see what, see what passwords are, are weak and maybe need changing and will go in and try and strengthen them all the time.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, anytime you have the chance to restrict the number of attempts, that’s a, that’s a good … another good approach because when these big lists get generated they get added to password dictionaries and on the brute force attempts it just makes, it makes it easier for people to try all of those things because they go into those dictionaries, so restricting the number of attempts can be a good thing. Now it’s time for our parting shots. That one tip, Web site or observation you can use to second this podcast in. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: This past week I was traveling. I was in Boston for AVA meetings and I will say that the hotel where I stayed had probably the worst WiFi I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was so miserably bad and the fact that they charged me for it made it worse and unfortunately I bring a MiFi card that I will use. I try to use it sparingly since I have a cap on it but apparently reception in the hotel was just as bad as the WiFi. I was in a black hole for Internet communications.
It … I saw a story last week, it kind of hit home for me. A Web site called hotelwifitest.com. it allows you to go in and it will ask you the question, are you in a hotel room right now? If you say yes or no, if you say yes it will actually run a, a bandwidth test for your hotel and then it asks you to fill in the name of the hotel and where you are so that it can post bandwidth ratings for all the hotels in the country and you can then if that’s something that’s important to you, you can look up the hotel where you’re going to see whether the WiFi is good or not.
You’d be very surprised at the bandwidth numbers that you see at some of these hotels. I’m not saying that that’s the decision point upon which you will decide to stay in a particular hotel, but it’s always interesting how certain hotels approach their … the speed of their WiFi. Hotelwifitest.com. Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: I wanted to talk about the Law Technology Today blog. We probably mentioned it before, but Tom and I are on the board of the ABA’s legal technology Resource Center. At a recent board meeting we were talking about all the improvements and all the great work that’s going into the Law Technology Today blog so I highly recommend that.
It’s also a great opportunity for people who want to write about legal technology but who maybe don’t want to do articles but would be willing to do blog posts maybe on a regular basis they’re looking to get a stable of regular blog writers willing to do a post a month. In addition to being a great resource to read, it’s also a potentially great outlet if you want to try to, to write and try your hand in writing about legal technology.
Tom Mighell: That wraps it up for this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. Information on how to get in touch with us as well as links to all the topics we discussed today is available on our share notes blog, at tkmreport.com. if you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in ITunes or on the Legal Talk Network site.
You can get to archives of all of our previous podcasts in both places as well. If you have a question you want answered or a topic for an upcoming podcast, or want to tell us about the to do list or task manager you use or even you might want to write for the Legal Technology Today, the Law Technology Today blog, please e-mail us at email@example.com or send us a Tweet. I’m @TomMighell and Dennis is @DennisKennedy, so until the next podcast, I am Tom Mighell.
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Thanks for listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together. From ABA books or Amazon and join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report only on the Legal Talk Network.