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Microsoft SharePoint & Developers Conferences Wrap-Up - Part 1

Well, it has been an extremely busy autumn, between attending a couple of major Microsoft conferences, an adventure in "out of country health care", and trying to actually do some billable work along the way, there has not been much time to think.

What I would like to do in this column is summarize the highlights of the Microsoft SharePoint 2009 conference in Las Vegas in October, and the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in November.  Because there was a lot of content at these two conferences, this column is split in three parts. You are now reading part one, part two will be published on Wednesday and the last part will follow on Friday. There is also some techie stuff in here – more than usual. I encourage you to read on and skim over what is too detailed for you, there is a lot of interesting stuff coming.
 
I plan to follow this up in January with some thoughts on "what does all this mean for a law firm?"

Head in the clouds?

Cloud computing. The latest buzz word in IT, one that is probably only knocked off the top in a Legal IT game of “buzzword bingo” by eDiscovery! I started writing this blog post a few months back, at a time when I’d been flash mobbed by “cloud computing” companies. The intention was to put down some of the things I’d seen that may be interesting  for Legal IT people, together with some of my thoughts on “cloud computing”.

So what exactly is “Cloud Computing”? According to Wikipedia:

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet.”

That help? Probably not, let me try.

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The “Must Haves” of Data Security to Prevent Identity Theft and Security Breaches

In days of yore when the documents were all paper, you could simply lock your client folders in a file cabinet drawer, turn the key, and feel reasonably confident that no one could infiltrate that crack security regimen.  Well, now that electronic and wireless communication dominates, and paper is usually mainly an output of files that originated digitally, data flies all over the place, flowing through cables and wires, and invisibly cruising through the air.  If you can’t see it, how can you protect it?  That’s a good question!

Law firms of every size, and all the employees that work for them including lawyers, legal assistants and administrative staff, are all vulnerable to data security breaches and identity theft.  Certainly, such incidents harm the individual, often in a major way, but also they can have a direct, negative impact on the firm. 

“Reboot” Your Knowledge Management Program

(Or Three lessons KM programs can learn from the Hollywood movie making machine)

Most of you will know that in computerese, reboot means to turn (a computer or operating system) off and then on again; to restart it.  Of course if we’re applying this definition to a failed knowledge management program simply restarting the OS will produce the same results - not what we are interested in.  So what if instead of the technology definition, we applied the Hollywood definition of “reboot’?

Hollywood has always done adaptations of books for TV and movies.  To me the classic Hollywood basic reboot or remake is one in which you try to take everything that's iconic about the series/movie and try to weave it into a new story with a new and modern style.  In some cases you toss out a lot of the old and simply start over - or “reboot” the franchise.

Collaboration – Google Docs just got served

For a while I’ve been meaning to do a post on document collaboration, especially as working on documents with the client is such a key part of a lawyers work. In a typical law firm this collaboration is through backwards and forwards emailing of the document to the client.

I’ve had some more thoughts on this recently whilst doing a number of workshops on email management, a large portion of email traffic for a lawyer being this transmission of documents back and forth! To be fair this process works reasonably well, especially when you’ve got version controlled documents in your DMS (Document Management System) and tools like Workshare are thrown into the mix, either for use in comparison (e.g. using the Compare functionality or Deltaview as it was once called) or for power users using tools like the collaboration in Workshare Professional to track the multiple amends from various parties.

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How can matter management systems average an ROI of 36% of outside counsel spend?

“Average reported savings from using matter management systems were 36.8% of outside legal spending.” Incredible, and not to be believed.

The claim comes from the 2008 ACC/Serengeti Managing Outside Counsel Survey, which obtained survey responses from hundreds of ACC-member law departments. I have twice before challenged similar claims drawn from this survey, and won’t repeat my criticisms here (See my post of Aug. 5, 2005: average savings on matter management systems from survey of more than 250 law departments in 2002 was 16%; and April 13, 2007: from same survey in 2006, “average reported savings from using matter management systems was 11% of outside legal spending.”). Little of this do I believe can be substantiated.

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One to pass to your IP/IT lawyers

Are you ready for WWW.JДSФИPLДЙT.CO.UK

As of this month the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) agreed to allow non-Latin script web urls. This means the address above could be a perfectly valid web address (domain name).

This gives a whole raft of opportunities for cyber squatters to snap up domains of companies, especially those that are based in the emerging markets of most international law firms, the eastern European, Asian and Gulf region countries. And as well as squatters if you have clients whose brand names are non-Latin character based or who trade in regions where the writing is non-Latin, it could be an opportunity to advise them on protecting their brands.

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Electronic evidence and e-discovery forum 2009 and ESI Trends

Legal IT Professionals was selected as media partner to the electronic evidence and e-discovery forum 2009, held at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel in London on 20th and 21st October. Joanna Goodman reports from the event.

The Electronic evidence and e-discovery forum 2009 was organised by AKJ Associates, which organises events focusing on business risk, corporate strategy and security management – key elements in managing electronically stored information (ESI) and e-discovery.

The timing of the event was fortuitous, coming only a couple of weeks after the 8 October judgment in the case of Earles v. Barclays Bank Plc by His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC in which Barclays’ award of costs was reduced due to its failure to conduct adequate searches of its electronic data.

Seven recommendations for successful technology projects in your department

From guest author Steven Levy, slightly abridged, here are seven key “go-do’s” for successful Legal-IT projects. They’re based on but somewhat different from CIO Magazine’s tips, and they take into account a few ways in which “Legal is different.”

  1. Require an honest business case. ROI, ROI, ROI. I can't repeat this enough. Return on Investment. Understand -- and require proof of -- the value of the project. Then follow through (see item 7). 

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Everything I need to know about Social Media, I learned from the Boy Scout Law

As part of my ongoing social experimentation in Twitter, I will periodically tweet out random words to see who takes an interest and will start following me. That is, in itself, a fascinating subject but not overly germane to today’s post.  It was on such a #randomwordthursday that I tweeted out these twelve words: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent. @billvann responded “My kinda list” and @jbtrexler tweeted back “:) haven't seen those 12 in a long time. Eagle Scout?”  While I do not have the honor of having earned the rank of Eagle Scout, I happened to pick those words because I am actively involved with Scouting.  Former Cub Master, now Assistant Scout Master, my oldest son, a Tenderfoot Scout in Troop 1158, is an aspiring Eagle Scout.  And yes as any Boy Scout can tell you, “A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.” 

Looking back on the "Alternative Legal IT Conference"

Allan CartonSetting an agenda for mid-market law firms

I attended the Alternative Legal IT Conference last week, which created a fairly unique forum for IT managers and other senior managers in mid-market law firms to share openly their experience, plans, concerns and solutions on IT.   It was good to see delegates from legal, management and IT backgrounds confirm that - in many firms - close collaboration between IT and the management of the practice is making a big difference in adding value on management of the firm and of relationships with clients to improve overall performance of the practice.  This was tangible in some of the real life case studies presented by managers viewing the business from different angles and from the facilitated discussions during the day.

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