Categories
Marketing On The Horizon

Self-Publishing by Lawyers

Disintermediation, or cutting out the middleman, is a key effect of the Internet impact, a disaster for some, an opportunity for others. Uber inserts itself between prospective passengers and conventional cabs. “Cordcutters” bundle antennas and streaming services to avoid TV cable companies. Some lawyers are considering cutting the cord from traditional legal research services.

Dennis Kennedy is showing lawyer/authors a new, possibly lucrative form of disintermediation: Bypassing conventional publishers.

I’m finishing a (laudatory) review of Dennis Kennedy’s new book Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law: A Practical Guide for Law Firms, Law Departments and Other Legal Organizations. I was impressed by the fact that Dennis does not merely talk innovation: He does innovation.

Rather than go with a conventional book publisher, Kennedy self-published the book, working through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (includes option for on-demand paperback publishing as well as eBook).

I used to think of “vanity press” condescendingly, as primarily for authors whose work was not good enough to interest a “real” publisher. This book has changed my attitude. There are multiple advantages to self-publishing, including speedier development and reducing the cost to purchasers.

Kennedy is in a better position to self-publish than most authors. Having a respected third party (in this case, an established conventional publisher) select a book for publication serves a sort of credentialing function, “validating” the book for potential readers. Kennedy’s track record as a recognized expert and author allows him to “self-validate.”

Dennis found the results of self-publishing so beneficial that he explained in an interview posted at his podcast, the Kennedy-Mighell Report that the odds are 95% that he will self-publish his next book. 

Self-publishing looks like an increasingly attractive option for lawyer authors.

Categories
Marketing

Substack-Mailing List Service

Subscriptions have been one way lawyers have made money for years. TheAtlantic and the New York Times have information about using email newsletters for this purpose. They provide an alternative that may be preferable to social media for some lawyers.

Substack is one way to market your law practice and/or monetize an email list through subscriptions. It is a sort of echo/distribution service for lawyers. You can start a mailing list at no charge, using it to build a community. You have to option to begin charging subscribers for your content. Legal tech guru Tom Mighell uses this service.

Substack is free initially. They provide:

  • Your own email list
  • A website archive of all your posts
  • Community features
  • Control over what’s free and what’s only for your paying subscribers

Setup is quick and easy. Your email subscription list will be in the following format:

your.name@substack.com

There is no fee until you begin making money from your subscriptions. Substack then takes a 10% commission, so it is risk free (except for investing your time).

There are two drawbacks. Their use of the substack.com domain name:

  • Reduces the effectiveness of your branding, and
  • Makes it difficult to move your mailing list to another host/sponsor, should you decide to do so later

Despite these drawbacks, Substack looks like a good alternative for lawyers who would like to establish an email mailing list to expand their reach.

Medium.com has more information.

Categories
Security

Cybersecurity for Lawyers Resources

Good primer-type IT security article in ABA Law Practice Today:

Cybersecurity for Attorneys: Addressing the Legal and Ethical Duties

Locked Down: IT Security for Lawyers
Locked Down IT Security for Lawyers

Locked Down: Practical Information Security for Lawyers by Sharon Nelson and John Simek is a few years old, but remains a worthy treatise, supplemented by Sharon‘s Ride the Lightning blog. If epic fails amuse you, check out her post about the school board member who revealed more than intended during a virtual meeting.

Their Digital Detectives podcast is one of my favorites. The recent Penetration Testing podcast is worth a listen.

Categories
Social Media for Lawyers

Stefanie Marrone: Lawyer & Social Media Maven

Stefanie M. Marrone’s column at JDSupra and her Social Media Butterfly blog are consistent sources of good advice about lawyer marketing and use of social media.

A couple of her recent posts caught my eye:

Categories
Productivity Tips

Levitt & Davis Legal Research Book

Internet Legal Research on a Budget by Carole Levitt and Judy Davis
Levitt/Davis Book

Attorney at Work has my review of the Carol Levitt & Judy Davis book Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers.

This book will make many lawyers think about “cutting the cord” from the major online legal research services, and will be a great starting point for those who try it. Check it out.

MVP Selection: Internet Tools for Attorneys

Personal Note: The high quality of this book was no surprise to me. I’ve known and respected Carole for over two decades (her Internet for Lawyers website was the Netlawtools “MVP” way back in January 2000). I’m looking forward to meeting Judy.

Categories
Security

Ethics Angle in Ransomware Response

Irwin Kramer notes that law firms who suffer a ransomware attack may have an ethical requirement to report the incident to clients:

Because law firms maintain huge repositories of sensitive data, they are particularly vulnerable to such attacks. You may not be able to prevent all attacks, but you should consult with a cybersecurity expert to improve your resistance to them. When all else fails, don’t compound the problem by concealing it from affected clients. If you do, your data breach will morph into a breach of ethics.

Another major incentive to take measures to reduce vulnerability to such attacks. The threat is real and the consequences for your legal practice can be severe.

Categories
COVID-19 Security

More Security Theater: Ostentatious Disinfecting

Is it a good idea to spend a lot of time disinfecting your law office? Possibly not, but make sure your clients are aware of this, and other security measures you take. Security theater is real. Make sure it works for you.

Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell had a nice discussion of security theater in the June 19 edition of the Kennedy-Mighell podcast, prompted by my question. (Yeah, I’m a little behind in my podcast listening). It has become a timely topic in light of Covid-19.

Another example of security theater at Talking Points Memo provides context:

I’ll have some additional comments on their analysis later, but those interested will want to give it a listen. Check out the show notes (i.e., transcript) at the same link if you’d rather read than listen.

[Disinfecting schools] is mostly mitigation theater, taking action that is high profile and relatively easy because things that would actually make a difference are either too hard or have been ruled out in advance because of difficulty or politics. It’s the germ theory version of looking for the missing keys under the street lamp because that’s where the light is.

The bulk of evidence from the Spring and Summer is that COVID transmission is mainly through the air, either exhalation and inhalation of people in immediate proximity to each other or airborne contagion through recirculated air or contagion that persists in the air for some period of time.

Of course, same thing applies to your law office. That doesn’t mean security theater is necessarily a bad idea. If it makes those in your organization or potential clients feel more secure, it could be a great idea.

Categories
Marketing Presentation Tips

Presentation Tip 13: Online Presentation Microphones

As explained in Presentation Tip 12, the first step in online training is deciding on your level of ambition. What quality level do you need? What is your level of technical skill? How much time do you have?

Once you decide on your preferred quality level, you can decide what level of equipment you will need. We provided some advice on camera selection in Presentation Tip 12. Let’s consider microphone selection.

Which is more important for online presentations, video or audio?Most lawyers would say video is more important.

Dennis Kennedy knows better: Audio quality is more significant. The microphone in your typical desktop computer or laptop is usually pretty poor. Most computer purchasers prioritize things like processor speed, memory or display quality. It makes sense for them to cut corners on microphone quality.

Unfortunately, it’s harder to get good audio. Again, the Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast provides a good starting point for analysis:

Microphone built into your laptop or desktop. Use this only if high quality is not important to you.

Headset with built-in microphone. These can be better than a laptop or desktop. Exercise some care in your selection. Mighell likes the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC.

Lavalier mic. These are generally comparable in quality to headsets. which then again allows you not to have great microphone technique, but will still pick

Stand alone microphone. The Kennedy-Mighell Report uses a Shure 58. Many other high quality mics are available.

More in our next Presentation Tips post.

Categories
Productivity Tips

Online Legal Research Without Spending a Dime

This Law Practice Today article summarizes several key ideas from the new second edition of the related Levitt/Davis book  How to Perform Online Legal Research Without Spending a Dime | ABA Law Practice Today

Good article, but it’s no substitute for getting the book. It’s currently available from the ABA.

My detailed review will be available soon.

Categories
Security

Law Practice Today: Greatest Hits

The monthly ABA magazine  Law Practice Today always has good articles, but the July issue is something special. It is a compilation of some of the magazine’s best articles. In this case, recycling is good.

It’s hard to pick my favorite article, but a top candidate is the summary of the intersection of cybersecurity and legal ethics by David Reis. He’s written several books on related topics was the featured guest in a recent edition of one of my favorite podcasts, Digital Detectives. The interviewers were no slouches, either, being Sharon Nelson and John Simek of the Ride the Lightning blog.