Teaching law students to blog | Interview

“Real Lawyers have Blogs!” says Kevin O’Keefe, founder of LexBlog, a website that shares information and news on anything law/blogging-related. He interviewed me recently on why my Fordham Law School students have to blog in the course “Law Firm Marketing”. Read the full post here.

Excerpts from the interview:

Kevin: Why did you consider teaching law students to blog? 

Silvia: Young lawyers need to differentiate themselves if they want to have a chance in today’s competitive market. Blogging can help them do this and start making a name for themselves. … Blogging gives them a platform and the opportunity to engage with others interested in their chosen field, get exposure for their big ideas and deep thoughts. Rather than just being told about the advantages of blogging and reading blog posts, I wanted them to learn by doing. They choose a topic they are passionate about on a professional level and blog about it. …

Kevin: Do you see law blogging as a learning opportunity for law students? 

Silvia: Absolutely. Preparing to write a blog post forces you to research the topic, dig deeper into the issue. You need to understand who has written about it already, what are different points of view etc. You learn about different stakeholders’ issues and claim your own ground. You also learn what engages blog readers, what furthers the debate and so on.  …

Kevin: Is blogging an opportunity to grow one’s network and reputation while still in law school?

Silvia: You don’t become a thought leader or have a great network over night. You have to start somewhere — expressing an interest in a topic, engaging with others. Blogging lets you be part of the debate and reach out. I have received feedback from former students who said that blogging helped them land their job. It distinguished them from their competitors and gave them something great to talk about in the interview.

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The Evolution of Legal Consumers | Forbes

David J. Parnell interviewed me for Forbes on The Evolution of Legal ConsumersHe asked me to describe the evolution of legal consumers over the past 10-15 years. Here’s what I said: “Speaking about the corporate legal consumer, this market has become a buyers’ market in that time frame. Law firms added expensive capacity to meet robust demand, and then the demand for high priced legal services tumbled in the recession. Not every segment was hit equally hard, but companies decided that “commodity” legal work needed to be done more cost effectively. The companies, en masse, decided to apply procurement principles to the acquisition of law service. It is rooted in cost pressure that comes from the client’s top management and requires the legal department to act upon it.

Many of today’s legal clients shop around and consolidate the number of firms they work with. They demand more value for their legal budget and financial accountability from the law firms they hire. Many firms experience the increased pressure, and as a consequence, clients have an easier time to get costs down and to dictate the terms. It has become more Darwinian: Successful firms have responded with automation, low cost labor to least complicated problems, and locating law talent to less costly markets. The day of the multi-million dollar legal bill with no explanation has come to an end.

Corporate clients also have become much more sophisticated buyers who better understand their needs. This is due to increasingly-available comprehensive legal information on the Internet as well as companies employing former private practice lawyers who understand how law firms work, where money can be saved, and how more value can be created. With the rising influence of procurement among large companies, many law firms have become providers of legal services rather than trusted advisors.  The data explosion has made it easier to make tough and wise choices.” He also asked me a number of other questions. Read the full interview.

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How efficient are you? Accept the #LegalTechAudit challenge

Kia’s general counsel, D. Casey Flaherty wants efficiently delivered legal services. And he means it. 5+ hours or 30 minutes? At an assumed hourly rate of $600, the difference is $3,000+ vs. $300. Multiply that by x tasks that lawyers perform, the difference is staggering. While many law firms today state that they are, indeed, very efficient, Flaherty puts them to the test: He developed the Legal Tech Audit (“LTA”) that he just launched with Suffolk Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation.

The LTA assesses how well lawyers and staff members use technology to complete commonly encountered legal tasks. How well do they know their word processing program and their spreadsheets? Do they use them in the most efficient manner? Are they over 5+ hour-types or closer to Flaherty’s own score of 30 minutes? The LTA will tell you. It currently requires test takers to perform a series of assignments that constitute a single, continuous workflow. 

So, are you ready to accept the challenge? You will first finalize a redlined investors’ rights agreement using word processing. Then you will be given data on dividend payments to investors to investigate whether payments were made equally to all investors to test your way around spreadsheets. Finally, you will prepare an e-filing attaching the agreement and spreadsheet (PDF). Watch Flaherty’s short video.

… So what is your score? 

(I still have to take mine…!)


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