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The Judge has grown weary of sulking in the shadows and letting the MeJDs and Chinaskis of Judged hog the limelight. Here you will find news about Judged, updates to our law firm rankings and the Judge’s daily ramblings. Want the real scoop? Check it out here.

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Sometimes I get a little punch drunk on Friday afternoons, particularly in the summer when temperatures outside hit 110 degrees by 8 AM and stay above 100 until sometime after midnight.  The obvious solution is to say indoors as much as possible and by the end of the week that leaves me feeling a bit giddy.  As a result, my meanderings through the blawgosphere tend toward the whimsical, which means I was utterly delighted by the recent news that the YMCA has decided to officially change its name to the Y. According to the Y’s own press guidance, “the Y” should be written with a lower case “t” unless used at the start of a sentence. 

Although this is a national rebranding, there will be no national recall of Village People eight track cassettes.  Victor Willis, the original lead singer of the Village People, released a statement announcing that the band will not change the words of the iconic song, nor shorten the dance in which people spell out the letters YMCA with their arms. 

Although the story is making its way around the legal blogs, it’s hard to find a solid legal angle leading me to believe that everyone is just as tickled by the story as I am.



07-19-2010


I recently had the opportunity to read a piece on Wired PRNews that discusses the use of video sites, such as YouTube, in the overall marketing approach employed by law firms.  The piece extols the virtues of client video testimonies as a means to advertising a firm’s efficacy and speaks to the ever shifting environment lawyer's confront today as they try to bring in business.
YouTube videos are no longer just for entertainment; instead
the video hosting website is rapidly becoming a reference tool,
creating an entry point into the Web and an opportunity for marketing
directors. Some are even calling YouTube the new Google, as YouTube
becomes as effective as mainstream search engines. In November 2008, 146
million Americans watched videos online, which accounted for 12.6
billion streaming video clips, nearly doubling the number of streaming
videos just 20 months ago. YouTube continues to grow as well, with its
share of videos streamed jumping to 40 percent of all online videos in
November [of last year], as opposed to a 17 percent share in March 2007.
No doubt, in theory, lawyers who want to market themselves
effectively should take advantage of whatever tools they have at their
disposal. Particularly, online resources often offer a cost effective
way to disseminate information to the widest audience possible. This
column has, for instance addressed the growing use of topic specific
blogs as one way of demonstrating a firm's acumen on discreet issues and
topics in the field.

The yellow pages, word of mouth and referrals still offer, to a degree,
the same amount of exposure they have traditionally offered; however, as
the piece points out, as client's and their representatives become more
tech savvy, they are turning more to their computers and the Internet
to conduct due diligence and seek out potential legal counsel.

My knee jerk reaction? There are so much effluvia and trivia available
on the internet. It is not controlled or peer reviewed and so, in a
sense, undermines that all important facet of the well crafted image,
the support of your colleagues and the idea of a standard. It places
your video alongside an endless list of similar ones. True the videos
can be embedded on your firm website and thus eliminate part of the
problem by creating an element of control.

In the piece, they ask an expert to touch upon these points and others
that need to be hit in a model testimonial. Kevin Quinlan, whose
marketing firm at CEPAC.com, specializes in the delicate art of the
YouTube testimonial, rattles of a list of criteria that take all the
spontaneity of YouTube and reduce the process to the making of a
glorified (or deglorified) commercial:

Spin.
Control of tone and content.
Anticipation of audience response and questions.
Distillation of issues down to their simplest denominator.

The modus has changed little, it is just the means of delivery that has
shifted.

There is little disagreement that the milieu for traditional advertising
has changed. To make things more complicated, advertising for services
such as legal ones, has always carried with it an ethical dilemma, as
well as a certain stigma. Where is the line drawn, what is too much?
But by merely converting a late night infomercial to a YouTube video, is
straw, necessarily, being spun into gold?


07-12-2010


We all have a need to outsource.  Fact of life.  We've all been through our own trials with vendors as well.  Keeping things on the cost side down, meeting deadlines-it gives the lawyer and/or paralegal charged with the task of managing a case headache upon headache. 

''Why hasn't this been done yet?” 

''Why hasn't it been done right? ''

Interfacing with your vendor or vendors is probably one of the most important tasks you encounter in a serious litigation, especially on the tech side of things.  It's also important to have a good rein on and line of communication with your lit support group if you have one.

Law.com recently posted a survey on the matter.  They asked both firms and the vendors who provide services to them what they look for in a vendor/firm relationship.

The kernel of truth to draw from this piece is communication.

Find a vendor who has someone you are able to talk to, who speaks lawyer and techy speak, that understands the unique dimensions of the case you are working on or the overall environment you are working with at your office. 

Be honest when you are evaluating the levels of services you require and how that meshes with your overall long-term business and IT model.  Many times you pay for tech you can't use. 

If you find yourself asking whether you absolutely need something or not, consider whether you want to add a new dimension to your practice, upgrade what you already have or learn how to adapt what you have to the services provided by a vendor.

Be aware of what you want to spend.  These types of costs (IT, document management, litigation support solutions) can easily spin out of control.  The kneejerk reaction is to think you are being swindled and do nothing, tell them to go fly a kite.  Or worse to go along with everything a vendor or consultant suggest and end up spending a fortune.  For goodness's sakes man, hire someone who speaks the lingo and can help you out.  It will save you money down the line and help improve your practice. 

It is my experience that most firms do not know how to incorporate the current level of technology into their practice.  This is not an insult to lawyers or their firms.  Tech moves fast and is a slippery fish.  There is always a new product or process and an array of ways to deliver it. 

As always, my advice is to spend the time up front researching what is out there.  Establish a frank line of communication with your vendors and don't be afraid to shop around.  This is a symbiotic industry and both sides can't live without the other.


07-05-2010


In my scanning of the internet waves, I recently read that over 22 percent of law firms have plans to invest in new technologies, including handing out more smart phones.  The survey was conducted by CompTIA.

Such plans are to help firms cut down on actual people they need to
employ - specifically lawyers - as well as make those that they do
employ more efficient and self-sufficient. The belief across the board
these days, at law firms, from big to small, is that attorneys are doing
more things traditionally associated with support tasks, such as
document management, editing, transmission, and calendaring. Having a
smart phone, plain and simple, helps.

Although the particular
piece I read focused on security and data management, I'd like to spend a
few moments here to discuss what I find to be the real issues:
Efficiency and time management. I was at my daughter's ballet recital a
few weeks ago and not within 10 seconds of the curtain falling on the
first act - I had a hard time seeing what was going on in the dark -
nearly everyone there who had one was tapping away at their smart
phones.

This goes for staff meetings, weddings, Christenings, Bar
Mitzvahs, parties, drinks after work, anything. I can only imagine how
many people are checking out the crops on their zombie farm while at
their desks. Imagine having your attorney doing the same thing before
going into court!

Let's not put the cart before the horse, folks.
I've still to see much talk yet about firm policy that manages
employees' use of any of the proposed technologies out there. Before we
adapt what is primarily, to most, recreational noodling on their iPhone
to getting that crucial document to the courtroom, we need to have a
conversation about what is and what isn't appropriate.



06-28-2010


Apparently not! At least that is the case
according to a piece on Law360. The long and short of the piece deals
with what practices are doing to prevent data breaches. Although most
firms are hot to trot when it comes to the latest hard and software,
they are, to quote the piece, ''hobbl[ing] painfully behind...'' when it
comes to firewalls, data encryption and other types of defenses.

Big firms have the money to spend but lack efficiency and efficacy.
Smaller to mid-size firms lack the cash, infrastructure and access to
affordable services.



It's another case of law culture lagging behind technology. Lawyers
argue fiercely over the sacredness of the attorney-client bond - in
court, throughout the discovery process, everywhere. The same passion
is tapped in defending/protecting clients' private data, intellectual
property, trade secrets. What about in cyberspace? Doesn't it apply to
bits and bytes?



Ask yourself: What data do I have on my server, or in my e-mail that is
related to my client and is sensitive or requires protection? How do
my employees use the Internet, which, if not monitored, can open a
myriad of backdoors for potential hackers? It's a simple question and
you may come away from this wondering what to do in order to step up to
the modern age.



Firms do get hacked. It's plain and simple and the culprits are
competitors, hoodlums, whatever. Other than trying to hack someone's
priest, a lawyer is the next best outlet for dirty laundry. And law
firms have sophisticated electronic means of organizing information in a
logical and easy to read manner. The point of all that nicely packaged
data is not to put a bow on it for a thief. Firms need to look at what
they're spending on other forms of tech management comparatively,
assess how part of that budget should be apportioned to security and
lock their data down.



06-16-2010


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