Surviving the Super Bowl & Legal Tech
By Monica Bay
LEGAL TECH New York flew by in an exhausting flurry-- what a week! The official kickoff was Sunday, Jan. 28, (but incoming visitors began arriving days before) with an amazing pre-Survivor premiere party. (Oh yeah, some game was on. Go Yankees!) Congrats to Celia Bracy and Monika Schreiner for orchestrating a rousing start to Legal Tech New York!
Early Monday morning, Professor Richard Susskin rivaled the pull of the Super Bowl party with his standing-room-only keynote address. Susskind boldly urged the legal community to embrace the Internet and the profound changes it will bring to our profession.
"Be prepared to shift perspectives," he said. Lawyers must learn to turn their knowledge into "value," and adapt different business models if they want to prosper, he argued. No longer, Susskind cautions, is law an "eat what you kill" profession. If firms and lawyers do not share their information, they will not thrive, he says. Those who will succeed in the future are those who rethink everything, including the product they sell. The Internet will help the profession discover "latent" business, and ways to "make money while you sleep," he said.
West Group's Mike Wilens, left, was among the crowd enjoying football.
Ultimately, he teased, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it. "
Following his keynote, Susskind kindly agreed to join me for a half-hour live Webcast, the first of our Legal Tech Live! broadcasts, co-sponsored by American Lawyer Media Inc. and West Group. It was a lively interview, which you can see at www.legaledcenter.com.
More thanks to Celia Bracy for a super job organizing our annual dinner honoring the LTN Editorial Advisory board. These are the folks who function as LTN's "kitchen cabinet." Thanks to each of them for another year of advice, counsel, humor, patience, hand-holding, and for the thoughtful articles they have contributed to these pages.
Finally, thanks also to LTN publisher Kevin Vermeulen for co-hosting our second Legal Tech Live! session, which showcased developments, products and services at the show.
Silence is Golden!
A year ago, at Legal Tech New York 2000, everybody was talking (O.K., let's get real: vociferously complaining) about the promotional tape that ran on the TV monitors in the New York Hilton's elevators, hyping our sister company, law.com. (They normally air CNN.) The tape was looped and played over and over and over. It wasn't exactly high production value either, making the Hilton's horrid elevator rides even more unbearable. (When is the Hilton going to realize that they have to do something about their elevators to their executive levels where all the receptions are held? After waiting for an elevator for 15 minutes, I finally gave up on my attempt to attend the reception put on by lawcommerce.com.) But we digress.
Kevin Vermeulen and Celia Bracy
This year, law.com redeemed itself, and proved that its staff has a hardy sense of humor: Every now and then, the monitor would go silent, with a simple message on its screen: "This moment of silence is brought to you by law.com."
Now THAT is clever marketing.
Lots o' movement in the last month. Everybody's resettling into new spots in the wake of SRA International shuttering its legal operations. Yvonne Dornic, the ex-director of business development, has launched eSentio Technologies, with offices in Arlington, Va. and Chicago. The firm will focus on legal systems integration, and provide I.T. consulting with a special emphasis on Web systems, document management and Windows 2000. Other ex-SRA folks are expected to join Dornic. We'll keep you posted.
Stephanie Buck, left, and Yvonne Dornic, formerly with SRA.
Next, Rick Klau has left iManage Inc. for Interface Software Inc. (the creator of InterAction relationship management software), where he is now vice president, legal markets. The post means a relocation from the Bay Area to Chicago (Interface also named Mitchell Grossbach as v.p. of business development.)
Finally, our monthly report on Sally Gonzalez' adventures: She and Stanley Wasylyk have launched the Michael Farrell Group Ltd., and will offer technology management consulting services. Who's Michael Farrell? Well, good question. Do you remember the TV show, Remington Steele? Where the gal investigator "invented" a macho male senior partner (named, in part, after a typewriter?)
An ice sculpture at the SuperBowl party.
It's a variation of the same theme: "Michael is Stan's middle name, and Farrell is my maiden middle name," explains Gonzalez. "We didn't think Wasylyk Gonzalez Inc. tripped off the tongue, and we knew no one could spell it so we'd never be able to cash checks," she jokes.
They are in the process of setting up their Web site, but you can check out the beta site at http://site21894.dellhost.com.
Boston's BountyQuest, has a novel premise: It provides a Web-based service for companies, who can post large cash rewards for finding information that can affect a pending patent.
The company announced its first four $10,000 winners, who found "prior art" (evidence that helps determine whether an invention or process is actually new) that challenged four patents: 1) a method for online music sampling, held by Intouch Group; 2) a method controlling access to an event venue through alterable tickets, held by Walker Digital; 3) database copying technology, held by Oracle Corp.; and 4) technology for single-chip network routers, held by Cisco Systems Inc.
Among the current quests is a $25,000 reward posted for information about the University of Rochester's Cox-01 Inhibitor patent. The school is suing Searle, Pfizer and Merck, alleging they owe billions of dollars in royalties.
Legal Tech NY: Paul and Kimberly Neale, and Jody Batik,of DOAR.
Hot Off the Press
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker is featured in the Feb. issue of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine. The article profiles how the Los Angeles firm uses Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry 957 handheld computers. Chief information officer Mary Odson and attorney Guy Maisnik are photo'd.
No, not that Survivor. (But don't you just hate whiny Kimmi and Jerri? Don't get me started.) This item's about some "believe it or not" tales of technology.
First, from SanDisk: San Francisco Bay Area's Ron Rosberg (who does radio commentary about high tech) was landing his water plane at Northern Calif.'s Clear Lake, with his young nephew aboard, when one of the plane's struts collapsed, sending the aircraft into a spiraling crash. Both fellows escaped, uninjured, from the sinking plane. Not so for Rosberg's Hewlett Packard 200 LX handheld, with 3,000 phone numbers stored on a SanDisk CompactFlash memory card.
Rosberg hired divers to locate baggage, but they didn't find the handheld until eight months later. Rosberg dried the soggy card, inserted it to another computer. Voila! Up came all his data.
This next tale may make a believer out of you regarding security software: Absolute Software Corp. says a laptop equipped with its Computrace computer tracking software was stolen out of Douglas Kroeker's car while he was parked at the Toronto airport. Kroeker was sure he'd never see it again, but the computer called, via modem, to the Absolute monitoring center, every 15 minutes.
After tracing 18 calls to a local number, and getting a warrant from the ISP to obtain the address, police recovered the computer -- from the thief who was online at the time of the bust!
I.T. Spending Up
Corporate I.T. spending keeps rising, but at a slower pace than last year, reports Computerworld magazine. The results of a survey of 150 CIOs, conducted by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., report that corporations have increased their I.T. budgets by 8 percent for 2001, compared to 12 percent for 2000.
Musician Sting can't wrangle the Web URL www.Sting.com, away from its current owner, ruled the World Intellectual Property Organization. Computer gamer Michael Urvan prevailed by proving he had used the nickname Sting online for years in "global" rankings for Quake, reports Smart Business magazine.
The magazine also reports that the band, The Offspring began selling Napster T-shirts and hats, without bothering to get permission from the beleaguered company. But the two parties came to a quick accord. The gear now is officially sanctioned, and proceeds of sales benefit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
John McGuckin, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Union Bank of Calif., urges California lawyers to get involved in the debate over multi-jurisdiction practice.
The Calif. Supreme Court has impaneled an 18-person task force to study, among other issues, whether attorneys licensed to practice law in other states should be allowed to practice in Calif., without the benefit of its notorious bar exam. This is in the wake of the 1998 Birbrower case, that brought to surface some of the dilemmas of global practice when it slapped the wrists of N.Y. attorneys for "unauthorized practice" for their work on behalf of a Calif.-based client.
Legal Tech NY: Bill Bean (left) and Erez Bustan, of American Legal Net.
"Faced with the realities of today's mobile multi-state, international practices, the court offered no practical guidance and left the field to the legislature, which passed SB 1782," reports McGuckin (a former Calif. State Bar governor, who currently serves on the board of the American Corporate Counsel Association), in the California Bar Journal.
The bill, in its original form, would allow attorneys who have passed another bar and have three years' experience and pass a moral character exam, to join the California bar. The high court intervened, and the matter is now being "studied."
"The current system doesn't work," argues McGuckin. "The task force has to face up to the reality of today's practice with creative and innovative thinking."
Legal Tech NY: (From left) Sharnik Anyansi, Merryl Wiener, Maria Garcia, Joey Lynn LaBoda, Melvin Maldonado of CSC The United States Corp. Co.
The airline industry is getting closer to offering wide scale Internet access, reports The Industry Standard. Currently, online access is generally limited to the slow (2,400 baud usually) and very expensive back-of-the-seat connection. But at least two carriers are moving forward with Web links: Air Canada has launched service, and Cathay Pacific Airways expects to start by the end of 2Q, both from Seattle's Tenzing Communications. You need a portable computer with a standard Ethernet adapter, it says.
Tenzing won't be alone. At Comdex 2000, Boeing exhibited its Connexion system to link Ethernet-ready laptops to an onboard server using a hard-wired local area network. Antennae mounted on the top of the aircraft provide two-way satellite links, it says.
Finally, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is working with aviation electronics firm Rockwell Collins to develop in-flight entertainment that will include Web access, the magazine reports.
DotCom Doom says it is offering its own Survivor contest. A press release says the site will offer a free trip for two to Paris for the winner who outsmarts competitors by voting off survivors from DotCom Doom Island. But when we visited, and clicked on the contest link, we just got bounced to the press release. Did CBS get cranky? We're checking it out! Odd: no phone numbers on that press release!