Last night I went to an event called IgniteLaw. IgniteLaw was the idea of Matt Homann, an innovative legal consultant who has brought people together in un-conference formats before with LexThink and BlawgThink (both of which I’ve participated and been a speaker at). IgniteLaw is a bi-product of the Ignite concept originally developed by the O’Reilly group as a way to energize presentations and share thought provoking ideas. The concept of Ignite is:
“Fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking, social, local, global—Ignite is all of these and more. It’s a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd.”
IgniteLaw was actually 6-minute presentations that included 20 slides that auto-transitioned after 18 seconds. The theme of the presentations were about the future of the practice of law. Matt assembled 16 great speakers (I only was able to stay for 10 of them), many of whom I call friends. Ed Adams, the Editor and Publisher of the ABA Journal (and my current boss) spoke about the future of legal journalism and the Legal Rebels project he conducted last year as a story about the future of the practice of law, or rather the Rebels that are changing the way law is practiced.
Now I think what was great about this night was that every presenter had an idea on how to make the practice of law better. Ed covered what was already happening. Tom Mighell covered how law schools can make lawyers better by teaching them how to run a practice, or practice management skills in law school. And Larry Port discussed how Agile product development methodology and how it can relate to lawyers in their case work. When you think about idea sharing and maybe even to a degree an extension of brainstorming, Ignite is a concept that could be applied to not only conferences, but how you give presentations at work or when you want to share an idea. Short, concise, simple.
IgniteLaw was about how the legal profession can emerge from its current crisis and be better. How can your industry change, and can you Ignite a change?
Ah, and you thought you were going to see a post of genius did you? Well, not yet. That’s the topic of a presenation I’m giving on Thursday to a group of State Bar communications staff. I have a few things in mind, but what are your thoughts? Still room to tweak my presentation. Add your top 5 in the comments. After the presentation I’ll be posting the slides and notes.
Last year you may remember me writing about a project I worked on redesigning and launching a new website for our flagship periodical, ABA Journal. It was just announced that the ABA Journal website has become a finalist in the Law category of the People’s Voice section of the Webby Awards (an online award for websites). So spend a little time, vote for the ABA Journal and help us win a Webby! Winners are announced on May 6th.
This morning the ABA Journal launched a brand new website that fills a void in the legal news space that will be tough to beat. Summarizing 25 to 50 legal news items a day (RSS Feed), the Journal aggregates the legal news world in one spot. In addition to legal news, the Journal editorializes what is the “most important” legal news you need to be aware of by highlighting “Top Stories” (RSS Feed). Not stopping there, the new site brings their print edition online with full access to the current issue as well as archives back to 2005 (with plans to go even further). Finally, the Journal has a blawg (legal blog) directory which currently has over 1000 blogs categorized and more are added daily.
These are just a few of the highlights. In reality, there is a lot behind this redesign that is cool. Some of the “not so obvious” secrets include:
The Slider – an interactive sliding bar similar to what you would see on Time.com or Washington Post.com. It will highlight special features and parts of the monthly magazine.
Advanced Search – Most advanced search boxes take you to a separate page with new fields to check off for narrowed searches. Not this site! Click “Advanced Search” and get an AJAX slider presenting you with some new options for you to narrow your results.
Action Bar – Get directly to comments, Share/E-mail uses a similar AJAX slider feature, Permalink, and Print.
Commenting – Add your opinion to our posts and magazine stories. Comments will be open for 7 days past news items and 30 days past magazine articles. Name and email required as well as filling out a CAPTCHA and agreeing to some terms/disclaimer.
Mobile Edition – Stay up-to-date on the most recent posts with your smartphone. Be sure to bookmark http://mobile.abajournal.com.
This site was a large undertaking and in reality went from memo to launch in just about five months. This was very aggressive when you think about all the decisions that need to be made from functionality, to wireframing, selecting vendors to work with, design/comp, filling with content, beta-testing, fixing bugs, training, and launch. My work with the Journal was specific to translating business goals and functionality into working documents for vendors, developing some beta templates, and providing training on specific functionality and business processes.
The great thing about the web and a website like this is that it is never really “done” and believe me when I say that this site will continue to improve with new features, functionality, and reasons to visit on a regular basis. So bookmark the site (www.abajournal.com), sign up for a newsletter or grab an RSS feed or two and be sure to keep tabs on this site.
On a personal note, congrats to the ABA Journal (specifically to Ed, Molly, Deb, Martha, and Sarah) on a job well done.
A few other aspects I forgot to point out about the new ABA Journal website:
Daily and Weekly Newsletters & RSS Feeds – Pick your poison, get news via RSS feeds for top stories and daily news, or subscribe to the daily and weekly email newsletters. Daily will recap the last day’s worth of content; weekly will cover the top ten posts of the week.
Tag Cloud – Having your topics sorted in alpha order is nice, seeing a tag cloud is better! See how many entries we have pertaining to a topic on the Topics page and on the Tag Cloud tab. Categories are alpha left to right and are weighted against the number of items in each category based on the news items and the magazine content.
Read some other opinions of the new site:
Denise Howell @ Bag and Baggage
Dennis Kennedy @ DennisKennedy.blog [Note: Dennis and I are friends as well as having previously worked together at the ABA, so this one is a little "slanted" in my favor. ]
Eric Turkewitz @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog
Bill Gratsch @ Blawg.org
Ernie “the attorney” Svenson @ Ernie the Attorney
Carolyn Elefant @ MyShingle
Mark Obbie @ The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program at Newhouse Blog
This article originally was published in the May 2007 issue of LLRX.
You have worked for a large firm for many years and you have made the decision to either go solo or start a small firm. You were used to having access to all your information via an Intranet, file server, and your desktop. You could practice law and let the IT department worry about when the printer jammed or if you got a virus. Now that you are solo, you are the one that has to deal with all those problems as well as practice law.
Originally published January 15, 2007, on LLRX.
Two years ago I wrote about what was going to be BIG in 2005. It was a fun take off on the VH1 BIG in 2004. With technology and the Web changing at an ever-quickening pace, I thought it would be good to predict what I think is going to be BIG in 2007. So let’s get started.
Content Syndication – My News, My Way
Two years ago I predicted that RSS was going to take off. It did, but not in the way that it should have. Many factors contributed to the lack of wider adoption of RSS, but now the playing field has changed. Publishing companies are seeing the value in RSS and how content can be syndicated to other Websites, and more importantly, delivered directly to readers. The software companies have also caught-on to the power of RSS and are integrating the RSS format directly into their applications. Much of this can be attributed to the explosion in the number of blogs over the last five years. Microsoft will help expand RSS adoption with the introduction of their new operating system Vista, and with user migration to Internet Explorer 7, released several months ago. Both have integrated features to facilitate the use of RSS.
RSS will be the vehicle for syndicating content, but it won’t just be text and images anymore. The popularity of content such as video and podcasts will continue to grow this year. OPML will also start to gain some traction as well.
OPML stands for Outline Processor Markup Language. It will have many useful application as a content syndication vehicle as it continues to develop. The most common use at the moment is to bundle a number of RSS feeds into one file, which you can then in turn import into another aggregator. So if I wanted to share my Legal Blogs folder from my news aggregator with you, I would export the folder as an OPML, allowing you to import that file and use all the feeds to which I am subscribed, via your own aggregator. This saves both of us time because I monitor about 50 legal blogs, and it would cumbersome to copy and paste each feed URL into a document to email to you.
The Social Web Becomes the Regular Web
Last year was all about the "social Web." In 2007, we will see how the social Web will be absorbed into the "regular" Web. Blogs and Websites will for the most part become one and the same. We won’t differentiate them as much because blogs will continue to be integrated into mainstream Websites and their core features, such as blog comments and RSS, will become an accepted part of all Websites. This integration has already started with the re-launch of Time.com, along with use of these applications in mainstream media sites such as the WashingtonPost.com and NewYorkTimes.com sites, to name just a few. These publishing giants have taken social Web concepts and placed them directly into their respective Websites. These features include a blog aggregator which is summary content from many sources (Time.com), columnist blogs with comments enabled, podcasts, and a "save and share" feature on all their articles which allow you to bookmark or share links to articles via social communities like Sphere, Newsvine, Digg, and Del.icio.us.
The next generation of the Web will continue to prominently include online community building features. Websites like Second Life will continue to change the way we interact with each other. Companies will no longer just be on the Web, they will interact on the Web. The legal community will, to a certain degree, follow suit. Advertising rules and regulations will continue to evolve regarding how blogs and Websites are treated by the state bar associations [Link].
So if you haven’t heard about the way cool new iPhone, the impending lawsuit from Cisco, then you’ve been under a rock for the last few days. So let’s quickly get the phone part out of the way first.
WOW! That is one slick machine. I hope it stands up to all it says it can do. The touch screen is amazing and looks very clean. Did you notice they changed up the menu interface (hmmm….no more paying a license fee to Microsoft (update: or Creative…can’t remember) on that anymore)? I love how it can change from portrait to landscape view seamlessly. Cingular scored big with getting that deal for the phone. Many hoped it would be a phone that could be taken to any network, but I guess having it be multi-platform (GSM or CDMA) was too difficult (or Cingular said they would pay hefty for the privilege of having the exclusivity). Bet Motorola is kicking itself for not getting in on that deal (not sure if there was a deal to be had, but they have iTunes enabled phones out on a variety of providers). Well, the price tag is enough for me to say “no” at this point, but what a home run for Apple on taking the coolness of having a smartphone and targeting it for the consumer market instead of the business one.
While the iPhone is very cool and will no doubt change the way we look at mobile phones and how we use them, there was also something subtle that happened at CES with Apple that not many are talking about, the name change. I’m very interested in how Apple moved from Apple Computing Inc. to Apple Inc. This is one of those subtle changes that indicates Apple is no longer just a computing company, but something more. Maybe a media company (iTunes, AppleTV, iPhone), maybe something else. But they are definitely beyond just computers.
Originally published December 17, 2006 at LLRX.com
The end of the year is closing in fast and you will undoubtedly ready many "year in review" articles this month. Rather than writing a column referring to what we covered this past year, I want to get you thinking about next year, so you can start the year off right – with a strategic plan for your website that is integrated into other firm goals for 2007.
Reviewing Your Current Website
Hindsight is always 20/20, so – what didn’t you accomplish with your website last year? Do those unaccomplished goals still hold value within the scope of your overall marketing strategy? If so, do you want to make sure these goals figure prominently in your plans for next year?
In following with what website plans were not implemented, did you perhaps add a new feature or features that failed to generate the response you anticipated or simply did not work? To what can you attribute this lack of success?
Looking at what you have done and how your website has contributed to your overall goals and marketing efforts will help you to focus your plans for improvements and enhancements for 2007. Review all aspects of your website, from design to content to traffic statistics to clients who engaged your services through the site. Having a complete picture of what happened over the course of the last twelve months will provide you with valuable data.
The next step in this evaluation process is to draw up a short list of ideas and changes that you want to make to your website in the next year and put it aside. Then take a look at the competitive landscape that surrounds you.
Knowing what you have worked on over the last twelve months is a good starting point, but information about what your competitors have accomplished is an essential component of your future planning process. Has your competition taken specific business away from you? Is another firm or practice providing a service that is within your field of expertise? Do other firms have value-added services that you offer but have not properly communicated or marketed, or that you can enhance to extend the range of your services to clients? Remember, you do not have to be the first to offer a online service or implement a technology application (such as a blog, wiki or an extranet). The objective is to determine how to implement one or more of these applications in a manner which keeps you competitive and expands your services.
Ideas that you will want to consider include the following?
- coordinated offline and online branding
- e-mail updates on topical subject matters
- client portals
- web-based client intake forms
After taking a quick look at your competitors within the context of the "marketplace" (location, industry, etc.), you can add more context and content to your wish list of ideas to implement over the next year.
This article was originally published in my column, Faulkner’s Practical Web Strategies, November 12, 2006 at LLRX.com
It is probably the most taken for granted webpage you visit every day—the infamous homepage that appears each time you open your Web browser. Many see it as just another page that they immediately click away from once their browser is open. Others actually change it to something more meaningful or interesting. Traditionally, the homepage, is usually set by someone else at first, but with the expansion of the Web 2.0 era and the greater adoption of RSS you can actually do more with your homepage than ever before.
The problem with homepages is that you only get to choose one page. If you are lucky enough to be able to switch this page (some companies lock down their computers so this feature is disabled) you are forced to make the difficult choice of picking a page that suits your needs. Many choose a search engine, a news site, or another favorite website. With personalized pages becoming more common place, it only makes sense to maximize that experience to get the best of both worlds. At the end of this article I’ll take you step-by-step on setting up a personalized homepage with one of the services I mention below. So let’s see what is available for you to use and how you can get the content you want all in one spot.
Larry Bodine reports that some of the clients he is working with are just not getting it right when it comes to their Web sites. In fact, he says 80% of the traffic for his one example came from internal traffic! I’ve mentioned before here that you must look at your Web site traffic to see where your problem spots are. To review, check out my April 2006 article from LLRX on Is Your Web Site Successful? Tips and Techniques to Get More Out Of Your Web Site.
If you want to learn more about building valuable Web sites, come see me on August 28, 2006 at the Hyatt Regency at the National Business Seminars Internet Strategies for Legal Professionals where I will be discussing Basic Considerations for Marketing Your Firm on the Net which will include a lot about your firm’s Web site.