Why aren’t firms making video calls?

why aren't law firms making video calls?Originally posted on The National Law Journal on June 20, 2012

There is no replacement for face-to-face interaction, but for international firms with money to burn, Cisco Systems Inc. has created something that comes close with its telepresence software. A number of large law firms now have this technology installed in their offices. According to multiple sources, this telepresence seems incredibly real—it’s as though you are in the same room. This can save firms tens of thousands of dollars on yearly travel costs. This incredible technology, however, is also very expensive. What if there were a more inexpensive option that any firm or company could use?

There is, and—get this—it’s free. It is called Skype.

Why aren’t firms already using this great tool? Could it be that in their search for more expensive proprietary technology, they are overlooking obvious tools? Skype is simple to use, free to download and the only real expense is the purchase of a $10 Webcam that can snap on a computer screen. Working from a home office, I have been using Skype for years and, while it doesn’t have a great user interface, it is a very simple tool for video calls. So why aren’t firms jumping on the Skype bandwagon? Read more

Does your firm have Klout online?

Originally posted on The National Law Journal on June 6, 2012

does your firm have online klout?There is another social media metric for law firms to take notice of. Forget about your number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections or Facebook “likes.” The new standard in judging your social media influence is your “Klout” score. To find out what yours is, just head on over to Klout.com and enter your information from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other major social media site and you will see your Klout score from 1-100.

In practical terms, your Klout score is a measurement of your influence on others in the social media space. Let me explain what that means. If you share 10 tweets in one day that nobody reads, nobody comments on and nobody retweets or re-shares, your Klout score would fall. If you share a great new article that is retweeted by more than a dozen people, or liked by a hundred people on Facebook, your Klout score will increase substantially. Read more

How can individuals change law firms?

how can people change law firms?

Originally posted on The National Law Journal on May 31, 2012

In 1996, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the season as one of the worst teams in the NFL. They hadn’t made the playoffs in more than a decade and hadn’t won a game on the West Coast in 15 years. Then something changed. In a famous game against the defending division champion San Diego Chargers, the Bucs turned a 14-0 deficit into a hard-fought win. They ended 1996 with a losing record, but it would be the last losing season the team would suffer under coach Tony Dungy.

So how did he do it?

Some credit the installation of a new defensive strategy, and that may be part of it. More instructive than what he added, however, is what he took away. Dungy had a team of great players, and he realized that if he could simplify the playbook and allow their instincts to take over—if he could stop the players from thinking too much and allow them to react instinctively—they would gain a speed advantage over every other team.

Instead of trying to change them, he accentuated their unique skills. During the next five years, the Buccaneers would make the playoffs four times, and finally won the Superbowl the year after Dungy left. He would go on to win a Super Bowl of his own with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. Read more

The dinosaurs vs. the digital natives

Originally posted on The National Law Journal on May 28th, 2012

the digital dinosaur vs digital nativeAre you a digital dinosaur? Usually, it depends on when you were born. People born during the late decades of the 20th century grew up with computers and don’t remember a world without modern technology; we might call them digital natives. The baby-boomers, on the other hand, remember a time when there wasn’t a computer on every desktop. All of these digital dinosaurs received their legal training and spent most of their careers roaming a predigital, pre-Internet landscape.

This creates a major challenge for law firms, because management committees comprise more digital dinosaurs than digital natives. Digital dinosaurs sometimes embrace new technologies and push for innovation, whether in social media, customer-relationship management or legal-project management. But far too often, fear wins over, and firms continue doing things the way they have always been done.

Innovative firms escape this cycle, in large part by identifying champions. I heard one such success story recently, from the accounting world. Naomi Civins, manager of the Deloitte OnLine practice, shared her experience in gaining institutional buy-in. The key was this message: “Lead from the Top.”

At Deloitte, one of the first tools they embraced was Yammer, an internal messaging system that some compare to an internal Twitter platform for organizations. Not only did Deloitte’s chief executive officer support this initiative—he became an active participant. This was crucial for two reasons: first, because it sent the message that Deloitte was serious about embracing new technology; second, because use of Yammer by the CEO gave younger associates a voice—they were part of Yammer discussions in which their ideas could seen by the CEO and he could respond to them. Read more