Friday, March 28, 2008

State of the AmLaw 200 blogosphere

Kevin O'Keefe of Lex Blog has but together his latest status report on big law firms that blog: State of the AmLaw 200 blogosphere, March 2008. Kevin includes a list of the firms and list of the blogs.

Since August of 2007 the number of AmLaw 200 firms with blogs has increased from 39 to 53. Since many of the firms have multiple blogs, the number of blogs has increased from74 to 110. That is great growth

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Upcoming and Social Calendars for Knowledge Management

I recently signed up for Upcoming, "a community for discovering and sharing events. It can help you find stuff to do, discover what your friends are doing, or let you keep private events online for your own reference."

LawyerKM mentioned the service in his Blog Buddies post. I am willing to try out new things (especially free things) and see if the are useful or potentially useful.

I created a profile (Doug Cornelius on Upcoming). I added some events and joined a group on knowledge management and one on enterprise 2.0. I also managed to add a few friends.

For example, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference was already added as event to Upcoming. I added the Knowledge Management 2.0 - Real or Hype? symposium being run by the Boston KM Forum.

The site is rich in RSS feeds. You can publish a list of upcoming events and you can subscribe to your friend's upcoming events. I added my Upcoming events to Dougs' Lifestream and Doug's FriendFeed. I also subscribed to my friend's events in my Google Reader. Upcoming is also leveraging the Yahoo Pipes tool to custom your RSS feeds.

Overall, Upcoming seems to be a great way to discover new and upcoming events. Upcoming is also a way to promote any of your upcoming events.

Of course, with any social media site the power of the site is based on the number of people and their activity.

The biggest problem I have with Upcoming is that it does not allow you to import a list of contacts to see who is already using it. I managed to find a few. But it is rather hit or miss. I threw in the names of few likely subjects and found a few. The site also defers to a user name rather than a real name so it hard to distinguish the person from a list of attendees to an event or those watching an event.

It looks like Yahoo recently acquired Upcoming so there may be some changes in store. I would recommend that you sign up for Upcoming and give it a try.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Wikis and Household Knowledge Management

I have often proclaimed the virtues of using a wiki for knowledge management. But does it have place in household knowledge management? Today I have two stories. One is a great success and the other a failure in using a wiki for household knowledge management.

Wiki Success Story for Household Knowledge Management

One of the goals of my current paternity leave was to try to get The Daughter into a schedule for sleeping and eating. As any parent knows the more regular the schedule, the happier the child.

So I needed a way to track The Daughter's activities during the day. By tracking the information, hopefully I could find a common pattern. Also, The Wife wants to see how The Daughter's day went. So I would need a way to deliver the information to The Wife. If I could use a web-based tool, I could deliver a live feed of information to The Wife.

I had the content and a process for generating the content. The process is relatively straight forward because it is just a running diary. So the focus was finding the right technology tool to deliver the information.

A blog would work, because it matchs up with the diary of The Daughter's Day. Twitter would also work because the information would be fairly sparse [The Daughter does not give me a lot of time to provide a robust stream of information] . The key for me was to publish the information in a way that I could analyze some of the information. A spreadsheet or a table would be a great fit. I could plot a daily timeline along one axis and the days of the month along the other access. This would expose any trends.

Most wikis support tables so I had a broad choice. I decided to use a Google Spreadsheet from my Google Apps account. Feel free to take a look at The Daughter's Schedule.

This is a low level of the use of wiki functionality. It is really just a simple web publisher. But that is often enough for a wiki to be useful. I am able to push out a lot of very useful information that I can use and The Wife can use. The RSS feed is not necessary because it is easy to find the stream of information in the spreadsheet. I did not need collaboration because the information flow is very one way.

Wiki Failure Story for Household Knowledge Management

The Wife loves the The Daughter's Schedule wiki. So much so that she thinks we should have a household wiki.

It just so happens that Google launched their new Sites application as part of Google Apps. Although it is a wiki, Google does not use the term wiki. [You can read my prior post on Google Sites.]

Since I had not yet use a Google Site I was all fired up to set one up and give it a try.

Then I stepped into one of the classic failure points for wikis and social media in general. I had a blank page. I was so fired up to have a household wiki that I failed to gather a single piece of content. I failed to even ask The Wife what she thought should be in the household wiki.

It has only been a few days, but the household wiki sits empty and unused. How many times have I mentioned the empty wiki syndrome? But I still walked right into the same failure point.

The Wife and I need to sit down and figure out what information to put in the household wiki. There is hope yet. But I have learned my lesson. Never publish an empty wiki.

In case you missed them, here are my prior posts on Household Knowledge Management:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Books and Household Knowledge Management

The next project in my Household Knowledge Management string was to catalog the household print collection. I have been looking for a way to catalog my library and make people aware of the book(s) I am currently reading.

I first ran into this idea on Facebook. There are several Facebook applications that allow you to track the books you are currently reading and create a library. I am a fan of the Books application by Jonathan Lipps. I also like the Shelfari Books application for Facebook. They both do a good job of showing the books I am reading and pushing that information into my Facebook feed.

But I want to share that reading list beyond the walls of Facebook. I also wanted to better catalog the books in my home library.

It turns out Ray Sims of Sims Learning Connections was looking also looking at cataloging his library. Ray Sims did an excellent comparison of Shelfari and LibraryThing. The conclusion was that there was no clear winner.

I created a profile and entered about 100 books into LibraryThing: Doug Cornelius on LibraryThing.

I created a profile on Shelfari and imported by LibraryThing catalog: Doug Cornelius on Shelfari.

One limitation of Shelfari is that you cannot manually add books. The book must exist in to be on your Shelfari shelf. That is a big limitation on me being able to catalog my library. I have several hundred antique books that do not appear in

The second limitation of Shelfari is that it does not offer an RSS feed of books added to the collection. I would like to the books I am reading to my Lifestream and FriendFeed.

The limitation of LibraryThing is that is a catalog and therefore does not keep a reading list of books that are not in my library. [I am a patron of the Newton Free Library.] I would lose the list of borrowed books that I have read.

LibraryThing does offer RSS feeds of books added to my collection, but does not offer a feed of currently reading.

Neither one is a perfect fit. Since Shelfari cannot handle my antique books, LibraryThing is my current choice for the catalog.

Contacts and Household Knowledge Management

Who you know is just as important as what you know. At The Firm, we spend a great deal of resources managing contacts and keeping them up to date.

I face similar problems with managing my contacts at home. As with most knowledge management issues, I need to find a way to match the content with a process and technology to capture the information and make it available in a useful way.

My problem with contacts surfaced again in trying to send out birth announcements for The Daughter.

I had contact information spread across several systems. I have some in The Firm's Outlook, The Firm's InterAction CRM system, my personal Outlook file, my Gmail account and my Yahoo! account. Clearly, I had a problem. On top of that, The Wife also has contact information in her firm's systems and in my personal Outlook.

In a previous post, I wrote about the success I had with Calendars and Knowledge Management.
Not to give away the ending of this post, but the contacts issue is still a knowledge management failure.

The problem is that the line between personal and business contacts is very gray. With the calendar it was easier to develop the taxonomy between personal time and business time based on the time of the appointment. With contacts I have not found a meaningful way to distinguish between contacts. Some contacts are clearly personal. My mother for instance. But what about my college roommates? After many nights of [drunken fraternity parties] serious studying, many of them have become respectable and should be part of my professional contacts. The same is true for my law school classmates.

There is also a big overlap of contacts with The Wife. There is not a clear distinction of who "owns" some of the contacts and therefore who has the better information.

There is one big technology problem and that is getting my contacts inside The Firm to synchronize with anything outside The Firm. There is a very tight firewall and very tight policy on installing applications and add-ons to The Firm computers. (For good reason). The Wife has similar limitations at her firm. It seems clear that the solution will have to involve re-entering some information at the two firms and at the home.

For home, it seems a web-based application would be best. Then we have access to our "personal" contacts anywhere that we have internet access. Then The Wife and I could update information at home or the office.

I was drawn to Plaxo. It seemed to offer the ability to synchronize across multiple sources. By setting a up a connection with others in Plaxo, your connections would get your updated information when you changed it. So I created a profile on Plaxo:

I was able to combine my contacts from various sources into one place. It also provides a synchronization with Outlook. (I can't get the synch to work at the office.) So at least I have lots of contact information combined in one spot. The downside is that Plaxo merely downloads information from Yahoo and Gmail, but can't push changes back to those systems. Also, the account is for me, so it is not shared with The Wife.

Currently, at home The Wife can log onto the computer and lookup contact information. Most of her contacts are her office computer, so her contacts at home get out of date.

Ideally, we could have a central location that we could maintain a pool of contacts. So far I have not found the right process or technology.

How do you manage your home contacts? I would love to hear your solutions.

LinkedIn for Companies

LinkedIn has launched a new feature offering profiles for companies. Up until yesterday LinkedIn only had profiles for individuals.

So I went in and checked out the profile for The Firm.

The LinkedIn profile is showing 345 people in my network as employees of the firm. So LinkedIn is not creating a directory employees. You only have ready access to those people in your LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn also gleams some interesting statistics from the profiles. For positions of those in LinkedIn from The Firm, 30% are associates, 22% are partners and 15% are attorneys. The median age is 31 years. It is a 50/50 ratio of male to female listings. I have the fourth most popular profile at The Firm.

The LinkedIn company profile also shows the most popular places that our employees came from and where they went. For incoming, it is the now defunct firm of Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault, LLP.

This is an interesting approach. I am curious to see how the company profiles start appearing in search results. For attorneys, I have found their LinkedIn profile to appear in the top five search results. In at least one instance, the attorney's LinkedIn profile appeared above The Firm's own web page for the attorney.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Calendars and Household Knowledge Management

Kicking off this week's theme of household knowledge management is calendars. It is hard to keep track of who is doing what with a busy family.

My work calendar runs on The Firm's Exchange / Outlook platform. Since it is runs on The Firm's computer, I have a very limited ability to add on toolbars or functionality. So synchronizing my work calendar with an external calendar does not seem possible. I have not found an add-on that I can install or that can get through the firewall. The Wife has similar problems with her work calendar.

The Wife and I could just copy each other for all of the events. But then our calendars would be mucked up with events that one of us is going to but not the other.

We decided to use Google's Calendar application. It allows us to have separate calendars for me, The Wife, The Son and The Daughter. We even set up a separate calendar for family and friend birthdays. The Google Calendar allows us to use a different color for each person so we can easily distinguish whose event is whose.

When an event intrudes into the work day, we invite the work address to the event. Google Calendar plays nice with the Exchange/Outlook platform so the invitations from Google Calendar appear as calendar events at work and vice-versa.

Since the Google Calendar is web-based, I can use it at work and view the calendars on my blackberry.

Using Google Calendar has been a great way for the family to share calendars and put the information in context. It is a household knowledge management success story.

Household Knowledge Management

Now that I am two weeks into my paternity leave, I have been thinking about how knowledge management applies to the household. The Wife is a practicing attorney, The Son has an increasingly busy schedule and The Daughter is a very demanding client. The household has similar problems to those we have in the office: keeping schedules, maintaining contacts, tracking the library and tracking knowledge assets.

In the few minutes of downtime that The Daughter allows me, I have been trying to find solutions to some of these problems. Assuming that The Daughter gives me an extra few minutes I plan to blog about how I have addressed some of these household knowledge management issues.

Updates on Household Knowledge Management:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Definitions of Knowledge Management

Ray Sims of Sims Learning Connections put together a list of 43 Knowledge Management Definitions. Ray only stopped at 43 because he "ran out of energy."

Friday, March 14, 2008

LinkedIn to My Facebook on My Blog

I co-authored an article with Jenn Steele of Leading Geeks entitled LinkedIn to My Facebook on My Blog. The article is on social media for lawyers and law firm staff.

The article appears in the March 2008 white paper from the International Legal Technology Association entitled Marketing Technologies - Putting Your Best Face Forward.

The article is reprinted here with permission.

For more information about ILTA, visit their website at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Micro-blogging - Twitter Explained

Common Craft has put together a great video on what is Twitter and why it might be useful to you. I began using Twitter a few months ago.

One thing I like about Twitter is that it is easy to embed into other sites. For example, my Facebook status can be changed by Twitter. Also, there is box on the blog site with my latest Twitter post.

I have thought that Twitter or a variation would be useful inside the firm. I could keep my assistant up to date on where I am and how to get a hold of me (if I am reachable).

If you like this video you should also see Common Craft's Plain English videos on RSS, Wikis, Blogs, Social Networking and Social Bookmarking

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Power of Blogging - Why Are Legal Blogs Undervalued?

In my previous rant post on Why are Legal Blogs Undervalued? I failed to show a few examples of the power of blogging when it comes to finding information on the internet.

My first example is a Google search for Interwoven express search. It returns two posts from KM Space in the top position. My posts are coming ahead of the Interwoven corporate site.

My second example is a Google search for bad boy guaranty. It returns two posts from my Real Estate Space blog on commercial real estate finance. (Bad boy guaranty is a commercial real estate finance term.)

My third example is a Google search for rule against perpetuities right of first refusal. It returns a post from my Real Estate Space blog in the second position. (The Rule Against Perpetuities is hated among law students.)

Those high search results are not based on any search engine optimization or link-trading. It just comes from writing about topics and joining the conversation about these topics on-line.

Also keep in mind that I do not post as often on Real Estate Space as I do here in KM Space. It also has less than 10% of the readership.

But still, with that small effort, my writings are appearing at the top of Google search results. Do you think your clients are not using a Google search to find information?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Why Are Legal Blogs Undervalued?

Over at the Drug and Device Law Blog one of the authors stirred the pot by posting: Why Are Blogs Undervalued? The post got picked up by the Law Blog: Law-Firm Blogs: Marketing Device or Mere Diversion? Since, the Drug and Device Law blog called him out, Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. also chimed in: The Marketing Value of Publishing: 1440 to 2008.

The first thing to think about with a blog is how is it different from the other publications from your firm.

Is a legal blog really all that different than the client alerts and updates sent out by law firms? At the core, there is no difference. Information is just published to a website, rather than producing a pdf file and sending it out by email. With a blog the information is generally sent out by RSS feed, but can be sent by email. As of this morning, 15% of my subscribers get my feed by email rather than RSS.

A blog allows easier publishing. If I find an interesting case or story, I can have a post up in minutes. The client alerts do not match that speed. Most publications do not match that speed.

I do not agree with Mr. Hermann's fourth proposition that blogging is too much work for too little financial reward. It is nearly impossible for most big laws to justify that any particular marketing effort leads directly to new work (with the exception of an explicit client pitch). I never hear anyone saying that should not produce client alerts or substantive articles for public consumption because they do not generate enough business. Clients of big law firms expect to receive regular updates of changes in the law that affect their business.

Blogging, like any marketing or networking activity is about building your brand. With lawyers and other professionals that means showing your expertise, engaging in conversations about your expertise and publishing your expertise. Blogs allow all of these. And certainly do a better job than most firm's rather static websites. Over at the Drug and Device Law, they measured 25,00o page views per month on their blog. They call that a "drop in the bucket." But I would guess that number rivals the page views than their law firm website gets. And that is with zero assistance from their IT departments or marketing departments and zero out-of-pocket costs.

All of the dangers that people express are there because people can find the content. Blog posts get indexed by search engines and the linking and and cross-linking are the magic ingredients that makes your blog rise up in the search results ranking. People can find the bad content. But they can also find the good content. All that good content rises up and enhances your brand.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lifestream - Aggregating Youself

As social media is spreading and as I am using more social media tools, I find that the information about me is being spread across more and more sites. Of course one of of the great things about most "2.0 tools" is that they allow you to easily manipulate the information.

I created a lifestream using Yahoo Pipes:

Shortly after putting that together I ran into Friend Feed:

I am recombining the feeds from several sites into one more comprehensive stream. Anyone who is interested can see a large swath of what I am writing about, what I am doing and what I am thinking about.

Now translate this to a use inside the enterprise. It is possible to pull disparate communication and authorship from a particular person and display that information in one place inside the enterprise. You can combine someone's internal blog, external blog, internal postings, internal tagging, external tagging and other sources and create a dynamic profile of that person. If you then store that "story" as it grows, you are creating a searchable repository of experience, expertise and interest for that person.

Currently, my friendfeed and lifestream are both pulling together information I add from:
Of course, like any good "2.0" tool, my friendfeed and lifestream each have a separate RSS feed that you can subscribe to or easily publish.