September 01, 2009
Dipity Timelines | Canadian Law Firms on Twitter
I have recently started exploring an extremely interesting new online application called Dipity. Simply stated, Dipity allows you to instantly visualize information in 4 different ways - as a timeline, as a flipbook (similar to Apple's "Cover Flow" if you are familiar with that) as a simple list, or as a map if your entries have a geographic component to them.
A very interesting aspect of the service is that it allows you to pull in all sorts of content (RSS feeds, twitter streams, photos, video, you name it). Feeds update automatically and you can also create manual entries.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I created a quick topic of "Canadian law firms on Twitter" by adding the rss feeds from the firms' respective twitter accounts. (The firms I have included are: Borden Ladner Gervais, Clark Wilson, Davis, Gowlings, Hicks Morley, McCarthy Tetrault, Ogilvy Renault, Oslers and Torys). Have a look below. The buttons in the top left corner let you switch between the 4 different types of view available, and the +/- slider bar directly underneath them is similar to the zoom feature on Google Maps, except that it is adjusting for time (i.e. view in hours, days, weeks, months, years) instead of space.
I think the potential of a visualization tool like this for lawyers is considerable. More on that in a future post. For now, consider this an introduction to the concept.
August 04, 2009
Who has the best Canadian Law Firm Website?
Jordan Furlong, intrepid editor of the Canadian Bar Association's NATIONAL magazine has launched a search for Canada's best law firm websites. He has hand-picked a group of judges to make the call, with the results being released this fall. Categories include:
1. Big Firm (national/multi-jursidictional
2. Small firm/solo
3. British Columbia
7. Atlantic Provinces
8. Blogs [i.e. best blog(s) incorporated within a firm site]
The Financial Post/Legal Post's Mitch Kowalski is one of the judges and in a recent blog post invites you to contact him with your firm's site if you think you've got the right stuff. Deadline for submission to him is August 14, 2009.
April 28, 2009
RSS in plain english
In my discussions with lawyers about blogs and internet marketing at various seminars and events it is usually the case that only a very small percentage are familiar with RSS feeds. In a nutshell, RSS "feeds" allow people to subscribe to the various websites, blogs or sections of websites that are of interest to them. It's an important technology for a whole myriad of reasons and "hardcore" technology and legal marketing folks tend to take it for granted but I think most lawyers are still at something of a loss as to what it is, how it works and why it matters. Therefore, I want to share one of Common Craft's terrifically simple "In Plain English" videos that explains RSS more clearly. (Also, credit to Rex Gradeless at Social Media Law Student for giving me the idea via his own blog which I am shamelessly poaching here because I think it warrants broad distribution).
January 14, 2009
Social Media For Lawyers Breakfast Seminar - LMA Vancouver January 21, 2009
For Vancouver area lawyers and legal marketers interested in the exploding world of Social Media/Social Networking and wondering what all the fuss is about, I will be presenting a breakfast session next Wednesday, January 21st at downtown law firm Farris Vaughan Wills & Murphy. Any and all interested parties welcome from committed luddites to the merely curious to hardcore techgeeks who will undoubtedly be able to teach me a thing or three along the way.
Details and registration information are available on the Legal Marketing Association Vancouver Chapter website.
January 02, 2009
Seeking 16 BC Lawyers for focus group January 22, 2009
Courthouse Libraries BC is continuing the development of a major revamp of their web presence to be released later in 2009. As part of the development process, they are seeking input from 16 BC lawyers at a focus group session to be held on January 22, 2009 from 4:30pm-6:30pm. The feedback will help build a more lawyer-friendly end-product and is being facilitated by the good folks at Habenero Consulting.
If you are a British Columbia lawyer that wonders what really happens at focus groups, here's your chance to find out first hand while giving back to the profession at the same time. If you are available and willing to pitch in, please get in touch and I'll get you on the list!
December 16, 2008
The Twitter Update: Day 90 and no end in sight
I noticed this morning that it was three months ago today that I wrote my first blog post about exploring social networking website/tool Twitter. At the time I expressed what I have come to learn is an almost universal initial reaction to the service: "I don't get it." (with an implied side helping of "and I don't think I want to get it either.")
Flash forward three months and I continue to be amazed that a service with such a seemingly built-in negative initial reaction can be exploding in popularity the way it has. But catch on it has, both with me and an awfully large number of others, both within and beyond the legal community.
A brief refresher for the uninitiated: Twitter is a service that lies in some new netherworld in between blogs and text messages. The heart of the service is a simple text box that allows you to write brief text-only messages of a maximum 140 characters. You can do it from a website. You can do it from your cellphone/blackberry/iphone. You use it to tell others in your Twitter network what you are working on, what you are currently up to, to pass along links to stories or sites that you think your "followers" might be interested in. When you log onto Twitter, you can see a simple reverse chronological listing of the various entries (called "tweets") posted by the other people you have chosen to include in your Twitter network. It looks like this:
And that's it. No more, no less. And yet that incredibly simple premise is proving incredibly popular - so popular in fact that Twitter has reportedly rejected a recent half-billion (yes you read that correctly) dollar offer from Facebook to acquire the service. Nielsen online has reported that Twitter was the fastest growing Social Network in the United States for September 2008, with year over year growth of 343%. Clearly, something is happening here.
That rapid growth is also being reflected in the legal space. Last month the Legal Marketing Association's Listserv was abuzz with debate amongst legal marketers over the importance of Twitter and other social networking services. Some see it as a distraction and the latest trendy topic du jour, while others think it's an important new development that needs to be better understood and taken seriously. I find myself squarely in the latter camp.
I would say that the negative aspect of my Twitter experience is that it has been in one sense what I feared at the outset - yet another piece of digital management in my already overly crowded workday. However, this negative has been overshadowed for me by the many positives I've also encountered - first off Twitter is EASY. It does not require the same kind of time commitment that maintaining a blog does for example. Additionally, it is not mandatory - If I miss a day, or a week, on Twitter the world will definitely not come to an end. And yet, it is also very powerful because the type of communication it fosters is a different one than we see in other contexts - there is a blend of personal and professional identities within Twitter communication that fosters a more personal, more informal tone than many of us are familiar with in the business context. The result is that I get a better sense for the people in my business network as people, and the relationships cement themselves a little bit deeper than they otherwise would. I've also found it to be an incredible source for breaking news and useful links to information relevant to my business that I would not otherwise have been exposed to. I think many lawyers will eventually embrace Twitter for some of these very reasons: it's fast, it's easy, and it's informative. Lawyers are - to borrow a phrase from my friend Kevin O'Keefe - Power Users of Information and Twitter is going to become one more arrow in their quiver.
For those interested in learning more, a couple of key links:
1. Steve Matthews introduction to lawyer marketing with Twitter
2. JD Supra's list of lawyers and legal professionals to follow on Twitter (This is a great place to start for building your network of people to "follow" on Twitter and continues to grow at a rapid pace).
3. Twitter.com - What are you waiting for?
"You've Got Mail!" Australian Court Approves Service of Court Papers via Facebook
If you are a regular reader of legal blogs you've probably already been alerted to this story which has been picking up steam in recent days, but I thought it was worth a note for those that might have missed it. Australian law firm Meyer Vandenberg convinced the Australian Capital Territory's Supreme Court to allow service of court documents on An Australian couple who defaulted on their mortgage via the couple's facebook page. It appears the couple had been avoiding service and the judge was satisfied the facebook accounts were the correct ones as they listed the couple's correct birthdates, email addresses and friend lists showing the two were friends with each other. This follows on earlier reports that social networking sites are becoming an increasingly important piece of the evidence puzzle in family law cases (with personal injury and disability also being obvious areas where such digital evidence might be relevant).
For me, the take-away is that more lawyers need to become better informed about the big digital frontier outside their door. As it continues to expand in the general populace, it becomes ever more relevant to modern legal practice in myriad ways for better and for worse.
You can find more details of the Australian case here.
September 16, 2008
"What fresh hell is this?" Exploring Twitter for lawyers
I think we can all agree that most lawyers already feel the perpetual crunch of excessive demands on their time. Between practice management, administration, professional development, firm and practice group meetings, and traditional business development activities like speaking engagements and industry association participation, one must also squeeze full helpings of billable work and family time which doesn't leave a lot of space in the margins for exploring new technologies. But stay current one must. To that end, I have noted over the last month or two that my own personal network of legal technology gurus/early adopters (a list that includes Steve Matthews, Kevin O'Keefe, and David Bilinsky amongst others) have all taken to a "micro-blogging" tool called Twitter.
Twitter fits somewhere in between text messaging and blogging. Twitter asks you to continually answer the simple question "what are you doing?" and limits you to a 140 character response. My first reaction was "I don't get it". My second reaction was "why on earth would I want to know what a whole bunch of other people are doing every minute of the day and how badly do I (or my lawyer clients) need another boatload of digital errata in their lives? Steve Matthews has tackled these questions head on in this blog post. I'll be honest: I still don't get it - yet. But I've decided to give it a go in any event because I'm confident that my early adopter crew isn't all playing in this sandbox by accident. I'll keep you updated on my progress and my thoughts on how Twitter may or may not be relevant as I go. Stay tuned.