Kennedy-Mighell Report

Taking Up Slack: What Lawyers Need to Know About the New Collaboration Tool

More and more lawyers and business owners are noticing and implementing the new collaboration tool Slack, described by its founder as “a messaging and search platform that creates a single unified archive accessible through powerful search.” But why is this particular application gaining traction among all other options including Facebook, LinkedIn groups, or even email? Furthermore, why should lawyers pay attention?

Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell noticed Slack gaining momentum in startups, nonprofit organizations, and even small and medium sized law firms, so they tried it. In their 2016 technology resolutions, Dennis and Tom both decided to learn to use Slack, and implement it in their management of this very podcast. So, after a couple of months, what was the result?

In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis and Tom discuss the rise of Slack, its advantages and disadvantages, and what lawyers need to know about this collaboration tool. Dennis talks about Slack’s different communication mediums including channels, direct messaging, and starring or pinning conversations and whether these mediums can actually replace email. Tom explains that Slack shines by integrating with other applications like your calendar, to-do lists, and Dropbox. But he finds issue with the pricing models and limited control over user restriction. The hosts end the segment by emphasizing that  litigators and those in records management can’t ignore Slack in discovery.

In the second section of this podcast, Dennis and Tom lightly touch on the recent subject of back doors in Apple products, the FBI, and private encryption. How will Apple vs. the FBI affect data security and confidentiality? And why aren’t more lawyers using encryption today? As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends.

Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.

View transcript

Kennedy-Mighell Report: Taking Up Slack: What Lawyers Need to Know About the New Collaboration Tool – 3/16/2016


Advertiser: 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: And welcome to episode 167 of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in St. Louis.


Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.


Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode, we talked about the subject of having multiple technology personalities and I recommend that podcast to you. It’s been a while since people have talked about something being a new killer app in the technology world, but I think there’s a new candidate for that title and it’s actually in our favorite category, collaboration tools. Tom, what’s on our agenda for this episode?


Tom Mighell: Well Dennis, in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, we’re going to discuss the collaboration tool, Slack, and the high level of buzz it’s been generating as well as our own group experience with Slack. In our second segment, we’ll talk about Apple, the FBI, privacy and practical encryption. And as usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots, that one last tip, website or observation that you could start to use the second that this podcast is over. But first, let’s talk about Slack. Back in our resolutions episode, both of us resolved that we would learn about a new technology. And I think both of us, perhaps unsurprisingly maybe because I copied Dennis, picked Slack. Slack is a team collaboration tool that has really become a darling among the startup companies and it’s now starting to catch on in some of the forward-thinking law firms. It’s been a while since we talked about collaboration which is one of our favorite topics, so we thought it might make sense to share our own experiences in using the tool. Dennis, let’s start it out. Why don’t you tell us how do you describe Slack and what do you think has gotten people so interested in it.


Dennis Kennedy: I was trying to think of the way I would describe Slack and then I did a little research and found Stewart Butterfield who’s the Slack founder and also a Flickr founder. He says we go back and forth on our own one sentence description. When we talk more evocatively, we say it’s all your communication in one place, instantly searchable, and available wherever you go. On the marketing side, we give a more concrete description like it’s a messaging and search platform that creates a single, unified archive accessible through powerful search. So I think that what I found so far is that the first description is really good. So it has specific communication or directive communication but relative communication to keep it in one place. It is searchable and you can get to it on all your different devices. So Tom, before we started recording we were talking about how we like the Mac app that’s on the Mac and also on smartphones as well. So you had the different places that you can access the information. And I think as compared to email where you have hundreds of unrelated emails coming to you in an inbox that you have to sort through, you get this targeted communication either that pertains to a certain topic or to the group you’re in or all work things or all projects things. So I think as Stewart points out in one place, searchable and available anywhere are the really attractive parts of it. Also, I did a little research. I saw that there are now two million users who use it everyday, so that shows how it’s popular. If you go back 6 months or so there were a million users every day. And it really is a team tool. So hour experiment, just the two of us for the podcast, I really see the benefit of it if you’re a team and you want to have those team communications related to a project or to that team all in one place. So that’s been my experience with it and I think the notion is of people seeing it as an alternative to email is also a good one in this really targeted way.


Tom Mighell: We want to talk about this a little bit more later but I agree that many are viewing it as an alternative or a replacement for email and we need to talk about the consequences of it being that kind of a tool a little bit later. I guess I should first start off by saying I think that the fact that you and I use it is great and we’ve been getting a lot out of it and learning a lot about it. I think and I regret, but I’m not using it as part of a bigger group. I think it’s a much bigger experience when you really do have that team concept. I know our friends on the ABA TECHSHOW board are using Slack as a conference management tool and they’ve stopped using email; they use Slack all the time for all their communications. I’ve used Slack as a great possibility for things like that. Not only using in the workplace as a team tool but also for volunteers who are working on things. Non profit, I’ve been thinking about setting it up for one of the groups I do work with. I’m going to tell you why I’m not going to do that in just a little bit, but I’m really interested in the possibilities for the non work use of Slack. I think the other thing about it and the way you tried to describe it is on the one hand I think it’s pretty simple. It seems very straight forward but on the other hand I think it’s really complex. And to really get to know it, it takes a little bit of time. You need to do a little bit of exploring and I’ll give you some examples of why that is a little bit later. I kind of want to talk about the communication aspect because the way that you described it is all your communication in one place. There are a couple of ways that you can set up communications to talk to people. The first is the channel. You can set up a channel that is designed for everybody on your team on different topics. So you and I have set up a group for our podcasts and we have one for topic ideas and we have one channel for scripts and we have a general channel where we can talk about different things in each one of those. So we limit our discussion in each one of those channels to a specific topic. If you have a paid account, you can create channels that specific people are restricted from using. So you can limit the amount of channels that people on your team see if you wanted to do something like that. There’s other ways to talk though too. You’re not limited to talking to everybody at once. You can set up a private group. Only those people who are invited to the group can see that information, they’re the only ones who can search that information. You can also send direct messages to someone, so you can have a private message with just one person and again be able to send and or search that information. You can also do a lot of email like things with it although there are kind of email like/social media like things. You can star messages you want to save. You see a message that you like, you can save it to a separate area. That’s kind of like folders although all those starred messages are in one place so you’re not really putting it into individual folders. You can also pin messages, so if you see a message that you want someone to see, you can pin it and it shows up in a specific place so that everybody in that channel or on your team can see it in the same area. That’s kind of how I gather there’s more to it than just the channels and we’re going to talk a little bit about it more later. But Dennis, in terms of setting up the channel, how did you find setting up an account for Slack when you started?


Dennis Kennedy: I actually found it a little bit harder than they probably wanted it to be and I’m not sure why. I’ve had a couple of different experiences with Slack and what I think is interesting about it is it’s a Cloud service. So you go in and you become a user and you set up an account and you can set up your own group or you can join an existing group if you’re allowed because somebody might send you a link. That’s how I first started using Slack because somebody invited me to their group. There just wasn’t a lot of traffic there and I ended up really not using that Slack channel at all. So you go in and set up your Slack group and I think it does work as Tom said and I think it’s an important concept. So there’s a group and within it are these channels in which you divide things so your analogy might be folders. So the unit of communications to me is a post, so you can post and you can do attachments to those. So it works like a lot of social media and other things. So I think it’s a real comfortable interface. I think that our listeners who have done a lot of collaboration tools will say I think I can do that in Facebook or LinkedIn groups; there’s a whole bunch of different things. What’s kind of interesting about the Slack story is how it’s taking off which tells me they’re doing some elements of usability and other things in a good way to make it really seem simple because I don’t think there’s anything all that new about what they’re doing, but it seems like it’s sticky. It’s easy and it’s sticky so people stay in it. That’s my overview, but I would say that when I went in there and you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to name your group, it becomes part of this URL. And if you’re used to creating URLs, it’s okay. But I think if you’re new to that, it might throw you a little bit. And there are just some aspects that I found a little bit harder than I expected. Tom, you and I were talking before the podcast of how I wished there was a dashboard where I could switch between the different groups I’m part of. I realize that there must be but I’ve just had trouble finding that. So I think there are still some things in the administrative side in setting things up that are a little bit more difficult than I might want but I can learn that stuff. But once I’m in it and once we started using it, Tom, I thought it was just super easy to use.


Tom Mighell: It was and when you talk about a dashboard, I think that it’s super easy but on the one hand it’s very basic but on the other hand it’s very complex. So in the sense that it’s basic is when you open up the app it looks like an instant messaging app or text messaging app. Every channel looks like a thread of text messages that you send to someone. And that’s pretty much it. When you talk about wanting a dashboard, from the Mac version – actually from any of them – you can easily switch back and forth between different accounts. So if you have one for work and you have one for a group, you can easily go back and forth and see those. But there’s not one unified dashboard that says here are the latest notifications or messages in all of your groups. Whether there’s a tool out there somewhere that takes that information and creates a dashboard outside of Slack, I don’t know. But that’s part of what makes Slack the more complex part. And where I think Slack really, really shines is in its integrations, because it doesn’t just say it’s a text message or communications app. You described the founders as having a description where it was a communications service. I think it’s a lot more than that because you can actually integrate dozens of other apps to work with Slack. Lots of apps that you’re aware of and lots of new apps that are being generated all the time, so you can set up Slack. For example, to integrate with your Box or DropBox account so you can access documents from your account within Slack and upload it to the Slack service. You can access your calendar, your wonderlist or other to do list. You can download files, you can add things to your calendar, you can check your tasks, you can add tasks to people, all from within Slack. You don’t actually need to be within that service. Slack integrates to the extent so that you can manage all of those things within Slack. The categories are really – I’m just going to list a couple of them – but they include communication, file management, human resources, marketing, office management, payments and accounting, productivity, project management, there’s one for social and fun. Those are the categories of all the integrations. I didn’t even mention all of them .There’s a lot more for software developers and things like that; there are so many different kinds. To me, this is the genius of Slack, because I think without these integrations, Slack has the potential to be just one more silo for us to sync our information into. But I think that the integration allows us to connect all of our silos together so that we can access all of it in one place. So I guess I’ve been thinking about it a little bit as a silo hub. It’s a place where you can communicate but you can access all of your pieces and information to the extent that that’s useful to you and your job.


Dennis Kennedy: I agree with you on the integrations. I tend to call those add ins or plugins so that’s another way to think about them. You sent the script to me in Slack and it opened in DropBox and I could work with it really easily and I didn’t have to make a second move with that. You posted something the other night that I see came from your wonderlist that was connected in some way to that. So people who are heavy Slack users really like this secondary market in plugins, add ins, integrations with other things so it works real well with your smartphones and other things that you’re doing. So I think all of those things are in favor because like we always said, collaboration tools work really great until people start slipping back to email and their utility rate goes down to email. So I don’t hear of that happening that much with Slack so I think they’re doing a good thing there. There’s this email piece we ran into right away where we started using the Slack program and we would email each other and say, “Tom, would you check your Slack?” And then you would email me and say, “If you checked in Slack you would see that I already replied.” Once you said that to me I just went ahead and pulled my Slack icon to the homepage on my phone and I enabled the notifications – at least the little badge with the number – so I could see when something new comes to me on Slack because I just made it important enough to where I want to know those notifications. And now it’s way easier for me to communicate with you through Slack because I see when something comes in and I need to deal with it.


Tom Mighell: And I get notifications instantly from two different things. On my Android phone, the notifications are on my notification panel, so I see that – I don’t want to say instantaneously – but it’s sitting there in a permanent state for me until I dismiss it. And then with the Mac app, the Mac app will actually show a little notification up in the corner of the screen whenever you try to communicate with me. So I think that the notifications, again, is a two-edged sword because I think it’s great to the fact that you can see what’s going on and get notification of anything that anybody does immediately. I think the downside is if you’ve got a team using it, you may wind up getting a lot of notifications. I know there’s a way to be more granular about the notifications that you get and to try to limit what you get and how you get it and I would really recommend that people trying it out look at those settings because I can see with a large team that the notifications would be constant and just unending in their volume. I’m wondering if we could talk a little bit about a couple of things that we like, that we don’t like about it. Maybe we’ll start about the things we most like – I think we’ve already covered that. One thing I want to cover is a type of add in or integration that Slack has that I think may be the topic of a future podcast – or at least I need to convince Dennis of this. That’s the bot. There are bots out there that can automate tasks for you and we’re starting to see a lot more of them added to Slack. I think frankly, Dennis’s closing parting shot today is going to be discussing a bot. But I’ll give an example for Slack. Let’s say you want to give a status meeting in your office but you don’t have the time every day to actually run that status meeting to see how people are doing. You can actually set up a bot within Slack and it will run the meeting for you. The bot uses Slack to pull the team and ask questions about what you’re currently doing. It will then report all of that information back to you and people will respond that they’re working on this case or they filed a discovery in this case or here are some of the challenges that I had this week. That’s just one example but there are some bots that do some pretty amazing things in terms of automating tasks and doing short and small and not complicated activities that you just don’t have time to do. I think that’s really an interesting addition and where I think kind of the future of where we’re seeing technology is going with these bots.


Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, that is a cool area, but I do think it’s sort of not necessarily Slack 101, but I think for certain pieces it could be a really cool thing. So what I think of what we’re doing Tom and what I like, we don’t have time sensitive things and deadlines because we decide when the podcast is going to be recorded and those sorts of things. We have a limited number of tasks for any podcast. So I don’t think I’m getting a great sense of how useful Slack could be when you’re on deadlines and there’s a lot of really big parts on a project. But I certainly see the potential for that. So what I found in our simple experiment is that I just found the channel surprisingly useful, and I think this shows the benefit over email. So we have just a few channels. So there’s a topic where we say what’s going to be the main topic. Then we have a channel for the to be topic, so that’s the second segment. Then we have something for scripts so we can exchange drafts for the script and we have a general thing. Rather than, say, I emailed Tom with some topic things a while back and go back and find it and we have many examples included our failed Evernote collaboration example where we tried to keep topic ideas. For me, this seems a lot easier and I know that I can look at the topics and see what we’ve talked about and any ideas of what we have for upcoming ones. Exchanging scripts is super easy to do that and it’s again in one place so I’m not searching through email. When we have ideas, Tom, I mentioned that I listened to a podcast where somebody was talking about email newsletters and I thought maybe you and I should talk about doing an email newsletter in connection with the podcast. Then I could just throw it into an ideas channel. You’re not overwhelmed by that and it’s just really easy to go back in and track where you’ve been and we’re not doing enough where I think the search is in, but over a period of time the search could be really valuable. So channels is a great thing, search is a great thing. Then there seems to be this ad hoc collaboration tool where we’re doing something with some organization or you’re part of a sports team or something else or you have a book group or something like that. I could see where Slack could be just a terrific tool for that that would be really easy to use. So I just see tons of potential both with internal and external groups. And this notion of that super simple ad hoc collaboration tool that you can get people on really quickly.


Tom Mighell: I think that I like the channel that we have for the topics. But if we’re talking about a Slack 201 thought when it comes to a topic is I don’t want to have to go back and look through that entire list of our suggestions and look back months and months and months for the things you talked out. So the next step for me would be to find an integration that would take those topics and throw them into a list that I can then access from within Slack and I could see a list of topics all in one place. Even though we’re talking about them in the moment, we may have a historic list somewhere else. This is where I need to learn more about Slack, there may be a tool like that, there may be a bot that can automate something like that. I would want to learn more about that in my Slack 201 phase. In terms of what doesn’t work, there’s two things that I’m not a big fan of. First Is really the pricing structure. You can create an account for free. Dennis and I have a free account, you can have unlimited users there. But you’re limited to five app integrations which may or may not be a big deal and you can’t restrict access to channels. So everyone in your group gets to see all of the channels; which again, may or may not be a big deal. The group that I want to set things up for has about 60 people in it, so it’s a lot of people. I want to be able to say that certain people only get to see certain channels and I can’t do that for free; I have to buy the paid version. And I’m not against paying for it but it’s a little expensive for the group of people who are not going to pay for it themselves. The standard plan is $8 per user per month. So if I had all of my volunteers who are part of that, it would be almost $500 a month just to have them on that particular plan, so that really doesn’t work. For a business, that may not even be a big expensive. I wish the free version offered a little bit more flexibility. The second issue for me is a little bit more serious. It’s one that I don’t think is likely to get fixed any time soon and that is I think Slack works well for groups who don’t need to use email or don’t rely on email or who want to move away from email. But if you still got to use email in your job, I think Slack becomes that other silo that holds some, but not all, of your communications. And the fact is that most lawyers are still going to need to rely on email to communicate with others outside their office. If we could get everyone else to use Slack that would be great, but we can’t. And I think for the foreseeable future stuck with using tools like email, which I think makes Slack less of a convenience. Though I really love the tool, I still see it working best for companies who don’t need to communicate much with the outside world and that doesn’t necessarily include lawyers. Or for lawyers who want to set up Slack accounts for other groups in which they participate. I may be wrong. I know several firms are using Slack and they’re successful with that. If one of you that’s listening out there is doing that, please let us know how it works for you and let us know how you make it work. I’m just skeptical on my end. I know that for my consulting company, we rely so much on outside communication by email. It would really be difficult maintaining two different silos of information. I don’t know about you Dennis.


Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, that’s one of my concerns is I think that for a lot of people this will double your need for knowing tech because email exists out there. You may have restrictions on what you can use inside an organization. You might be in Sharepoint, you might be in some other collaboration tool. You could be in a whole bunch of collaboration tools and then this is just one more that you have to learn. And unless you can get the connections by policy or security reasons which you might not be able to do, here you’re running another parallel structure or silo. So I think this is something that makes sense to pick and choose. I think that why a lot of the examples of successes are startups are because you can just jump on this platform so easily and use it and then you don’t have that whole history of email and other systems, so I see it as starting from scratch. That’s why I mentioned that I like it as an ad hoc collaboration tool like those social groups and other things you’re doing because then you don’t have to rely so much on that. I look back to when my daughter was in elementary school and I could see us as parents setting up a Slack group where channels could be really useful, so I see that as being a cool thing. Not to step on your territory Tom, but I feel lawyers really need to know this because it’s so hot and so many people are using it because it’s another place where people are storing important information and communications and that means evidence. So it’s just another tech tool that lawyers cannot ignore because in a lot of cases a lot of the important information is going to be in there.


Tom Mighell: I agree and I think that the problem around discovery really is that like I said, it’s almost like I feel like I’m having an instant messaging conversation or I’m sending a text message. And because of that I think that our conversations on Slack are likely to be even more informal than they would be in email, which we’ve seen what people say in email and discovery. So I think that’s obviously something you need to think about. Second, I just don’t know and I would want to talk to some people who are more engaged in ediscovery than I am, but how do you parsh a Slack conversation? With email, each message is in a single container, so to speak, and other messages are in the thread if necessary. But with Slack, I don’t know if you can surgically export relevant parts of a conversation or if you have to have our whole channel and you produce a whole channel. And with all those integrations that are out there, now does that mean that all of your associated tools and the information contained in them are relevant because somehow they are connected to your Slack account? I’m sure there are ways to defensively produce only the relevant information, but I think these are the sorts of things you need to think about again and I think like you, I really recommend people take a look at Slack, see how it works, test it out and do that. But keep these things in mind because I think they are good, smart things for lawyers to think about when using a tool like this.


Dennis Kennedy: I think it’s a technology that’s hot enough that it makes sense to try. There are some easy ways to try it with small groups as Tom and I are doing. There’s some other ideas you’d might try. Tom, you asked the listeners for ideas and examples of what they’re doing. It’s intriguing to think of what a Slack group of listeners to this podcast might do. I also think for people who are interested in the mastermind sort of concept where you have an informal group of advisors who help each other out, maybe 6 to 10 people. I could see how Slack could facilitate that sort of thing. There are a number of things out there to try. It’s an interesting space and I don’t know that it is a killer app in the sense of spreadsheets and other things that are popular apps, but the uptake and the buzz around this is very high. So definitely something for lawyers to look into and especially if you’re a litigator or you’re involved on the records management side, I would recommend you stay in the dark about it.


Tom Mighell: 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: And now let’s get back to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Tom Mighell.


Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. At the time of this recording, there’s been a big battle going on between Apple and the FBI over access to – depending on the story – one iPhone in particular used by a shooter in a mass killing in San Bernardino. Or, as I saw this morning, maybe some more that the FBI is wanting to have on lock. It’s a really complex and interesting story and there are a lot of nuances. So it’s worthwhile reading all the discussions out there. The issue is not even close to being resolved at the time of this recording and it could take years to go to the Supreme Court and get a final resolve, but there also may be developments by the time you hear this episode. So rather than make predictions, we thought it was a good time to talk about practical encryption because in some ways, that surrounds this whole notion of the Apple FBI brouhaha, but certainly the events that are going on right now. So Tom does this battle make the atmosphere around encryption even more murky than it already has been?


Tom Mighell: Well, I think so and I’ll mention in a second that most lawyers still aren’t using some form of encryption so a lot of them may not have a dog in this hunt, so to speak. We don’t want to get into the technical aspects of this. I think we both defer to our good friends Sharon Nelson and John Simek who I’m sure will be discussing this topic soon if they haven’t already. From an outcome standpoint, I really wouldn’t have a problem if there was a way to break into that one phone or the other phones assuming they were relevant and not affecting the other phone out there. I don’t want that to come at the expense of potentially opening up backdoors of every phone out there because I think the government or hackers or other governments now have potential access to the keys. I’ll step down from my soapbox at this point and just say I think the other issue that I’m thinking about in terms of this case is I don’t know what kind of information law enforcement really expects to find on the phone and I’d love to hear from Sharon and John on this because a lot of what’s on your phone already exists some place else. Your email, your instant messages, your text messages, a lot of app information; it’s already synchronized to other locations where it’s probably unencrypted or at least easier to get into. And I think a phone is definitely going to have photos. There’s probably some application based information. I’d be really interested to know what could be solely on the phone that would be of interest to law enforcement in this matter. But that’s something I haven’t heard anything about. Does that make the lawyer’s relationship with encryption even more murky, I think it’s already been murky. I think it’s murkier if that’s a word. Other than using passwords on their phone, The ABA Technology Resource Center reports show that very few lawyers don’t do a lot to encrypt their information. To the average lawyer, his or her information, this story probably isn’t that big of a deal but I think it should be. I guess this is our opportunity again and I think our regular opportunity to say that at least for now, encryption is a good way to ensure that the confidentiality of your practice isn’t falling into the wrong hands whether that’s the government or hackers or other governments, whoever it is. So using basic encryption tools I think we’re all going to recommend is a great thing until there’s a backdoor that gets built into them which we hope that day is not going to come. If you’re not using some level of encryption on your phone, I think you’re still in the minority. I think that you should be setting a passcode, a password, something to lock your phone when you don’t have access to it. Think about using encryption on your email messages as well. I think the tools for encrypting email are more plentiful than ever and they’re a lot easier and cheaper to use than they have been in the past. And then finally, make sure that the laptop that you’re using on the road is using full disc encryption. That means you’ve got to use a password just to get into your laptop. It’s not really enough although it’s not a bad idea to encrypt things on the file level. But if you happen to lose your laptop you want to make sure that you stop the bad guys at the gates. You don’t want to let them in to wander around and try to get access to your files. So I really think that full disc encryption if you’re not using it is a really an important tool. Those are my 3 quick hit, Dennis, on things. A little bit practical but short and sweet. Dennis, what about you?


Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I think the full disc is a big one. It’s a simple setting these days. And if your laptop gets stolen that’s a big help. And I think that using secure channels, encryption of certain things. It’s tax season and it would be nice to backup my tax returns which have social security numbers and other things on it. If I wanted to put it in DropBox or online backup, I would encrypt those. You start to say there are a lot of things that I would just want to go ahead and encrypt especially when it comes to storing them in the Cloud. I might want to encrypt email and I might want to encrypt things if some things could become fast enough where you could encrypt everything. So it’s become easier and you can just dig through a lot of things that make sense to encrypt. I think the concern here is that if law enforcement can then say, “Hey, we can make you unencrypt or we can make a third party unencrypt,” or I’m using the Apple phone because I know it’s secure. That’s one of the things I know they say, this can’t be broken. And then Apple or another third party can then unencrypt what I’m doing; that’s really not what I bargained for and that really feels that I did things to keep things private and it was taken away from me in a way I didn’t expect. So I think there are a lot of those issues out there and then what’s that going to mean if I’m doing something where I say this is confidential and my argument is confidential because it’s encrypted but then somebody says no, there’s a key, it could be unlocked. Does that have some evidentiary or other consequence because it’s no longer technically confidential because it can be unencrypted? All these things are moving targets. There are two sides of every story but it does feel that in this world where we’re battling to keep whatever shreds of privacy that are left for us that encryption is one way that you can do that that makes a lot of sense. The government or court order or whatever where you’re not sure how the balancing is taking place opens that up to someone else, it’s just a really, really difficult issue. Some of these times, things are as they say, hard cases make bad law. So I sort of feel when I look at these things that as it becomes easier to encrypt and I encrypt more, I would hate to find that it all can be unlocked really easily. Now it’s time for our parting shots, that one tip, website or observation that you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.


Tom Mighell: So i’m going to talk about Eero. Eero is built as finally Wifi that works. I have a big problem in my two story house that I have a couple of dead zones in the kitchen and in the bedroom where the Wifi just teeters out or has a very weak signal because I can’t get it to extend. I’ve used extenders and they don’t work very well. What Eero does is it sets up a mesh network in your house so that you buy a couple of different devices. They say that a set up three devices covers a typical home. They work in union to give you a very fast Wifi network. Walt Mossberg from The Verge has reviewed them. He said that he was able to hook up about 16 different devices and run Netflix and run gaming and download movies and do all sorts of things and his Wifi worked flawlessly the entire time. So it’s a little pricey. They’re $199 each, a 3 pack for $499, so I may be saving up a little bit before I buy them. But I’m really intrigued at this new product. They just went on sale the past couple of days before this recording. It’s Eero.


Dennis Kennedy: So I have a couple of things. Tom, with the recent death of Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court is going to be front and center in our attention over the next several months or even years. So I recommend a Slate podcast called Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick where they cover the Supreme Court decisions, developments, and I think that’s going to be a great place for those who like podcasts to get good information about the Supreme Court and hear what people are talking about. And Tom, I know you put the URLs in the show notes so they’re long ones so I won’t read them off, but these are bot notions and it’s worth seeing what’s going on here. One that was recent was a 19 year old in Britain created a free lawyer bot that’s successfully appealing parking tickets. So I think this is one of these areas where there’s this need for legal types of services that don’t make sense for a lot of lawyers to do preferably. So this is an example where somebody’s figured out an automated way to do that. And the other one is something you can look at, Robo Investment or Robo Wealth Advisors. So this is an interesting area where software or software services can give financial advice, help you manage your investments in a way we used to rely on, stock brokers, to do, like taking advantage of algorithms and other approaches to help you keep investments balanced and do other things like that. So definitely an area where the bots are making some inroads against the humans.


Tom Mighell: So 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 show notes blog at If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or on the Legal Talk Network site where you can find archives to all of our previous podcasts. If you’d like to get in touch with us, please email us at or send us a tweet. I’m @TomMighell and Dennis is @DennisKennedy. So until the next podcast, I am Tom Mighell.


Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy and you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an internet focus. Help us out by telling a couple of your friends and colleagues about this podcast.
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