Archive for the ‘Legal Technology’ Category

20

Feb 12

Twitter Moot Court Convenes Tomorrow.


On Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 10am PST (1pm EST) West Coast Environmental Law will be hosting the first ever Twitter Moot Court. The event takes the tried-and-true law school practice of mooting and flips it on its head by conducting it via social media. It’s an exciting innovation that will help interested parties explore how traditional legal arguments are translated into modern technology environments.

Presenting a legal argument in “tweets” that consist of no more than 140 characters is certainly going to be a challenge. However, Skunkworks is proud to be sponsoring two students, Matthew Nefstead and Jenn Cameron, from the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria (alma mater to two of us here at Skunkworks).

In total, 5 Canadian law schools have entered teams into what promises to be a fascinating experiment in legal academics. The other schools participating include Dalhousie University, University of Ottawa, UBC, and The Osgoode School of Law. Each tweeting team has its own page here. The judging panel is a an interesting mashup of talent itself, and includes University of Calgary law professor Kathleen Mahoney, lawyer-turned-novelist William Deverell and legal social media wunderkind Omar Ha-Redeye.

The case that the tweeters plan on mooting is the landmark environmental decision West Moberly First Nations v. British Columbia – a precedent-setting decision that confirmed the government of British Columbia has an obligation to protect First Nation treaty rights from incremental intrusions into the habitats of at-risk-species.

In the actual case, the BC Supreme Court found that the BC government had not sufficiently consulted West Moberly First Nations on how to adequately protect the Burnt Pine Caribou Herd prior to issuing mining permits to First Coal Corporation. It was decided that Crown also failed to put in place an active plan to accommodate for the protection and rehabilitation of the Caribou Herd. As a result, the BC Court of Appeal suspended First Coal Corporation’s mining permits.

It’s important to note, that you don’t need to be a member of the Twitter community to watch the latest crop of digitally savvy law students make social media and legal history. You can follow along through the “twitter feed” embedded at http://wcel.org/live-twitter-moot-feed.

Best of luck to all participants!

30

Jan 11

The “New” Marketing

[This article was originally published on www.SLAW.ca in January, 2011]

Lawyers frequently lament to me that they wish they could focus on the practice of law, rather than being perpetually barraged with new and un-billable marketing and technology demands. There is a palpable longing for the halcyon days when such a pure life was allegedly attainable. The fundamental approach to marketing in the golden age — still deeply rooted in many lawyers’ DNA — was “Do good work.”

Full-stop. Put another way, the prevailing ethos was “by one’s expertise shall ye be known.” Smart lawyers excelled. Smart lawyers who also happened to have a way with people were superstars.

Against this backdrop, any activity specifically directed towards marketing felt ancillary, somewhat impure, and utterly accretive, like barnacles attaching themselves to the underbelly of the mighty vessel that is the law. Given a choice between steering the ship or attending to barnacle management, most lawyers naturally gravitated above-decks to the wheelhouse.

Those of a certain age will remember that one of Dr. Leonard (“Bones”) McCoy’s most oft-quoted phrases on the original Star Trek series ran something along the lines of:“Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician!” uttered in an exasperated tone when the good doctor was being asked to do the impossible for the umpteenth time. I can almost hear McCoy shouting at me: “Dammit Doug, I’m a lawyer, not a marketer!” when having a “law vs. these new distractions” discussion with lawyers.

For those who feel similarly under siege by the ongoing assault on their ability to actually practice law in the course of their legal career, I offer what I hope is at least a modicum of good news: a shift is occurring in marketing circles – and in this “New” Marketing, expertise is once again moving squarely to the forefront.

At a recent Legal Marketing Association conference in Toronto on the changing face of legal marketing, I was struck by the comments of keynote speaker Mitch Joel. In Joel’s view, the steak-less sizzle of traditional marketing is being usurped by something more substantive online. His position is that digital channels are the first places in marketing that facilitate real interactions between real people. As Joel himself put it:

”I’m thrilled to be out of a world where marketing is whiter, brighter, and 20% off.”

There is no question that the online world increasingly reins supreme from a legal marketing perspective. And in this new environment, the object that now shines brightest for lawyers “shilling their wares” is good old-fashioned expertise.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this shift is the rise of legal blogging. We have seen blogs definitively hit the legal mainstream over the last few years. Fundamentally, law blogs are online demonstrations of the author(s) legal knowledge, rich in detail and practical information about niche areas of practice. Frequently they are also geared to specific client industries, and can become important industry connection points as a result, acting as a sort of online commons (Slaw itself being a prime example of this in my view). The best blogs also tend to reveal something of their authors’ personalities, making the blogs more engaging for readers, and their authors analogous to the legal superstars of old.

But it’s not just blogs. Digital channels such as twitter and other social media have exploded in popularity in both the legal world and the broader population. The growth of legal document portal JD Supra is another case in point. In the legal context at least, it is substance over style that is winning converts – and clients – in these new arenas. There is an authenticity to digital marketing done well that is perfectly aligned with lawyers’ natural inclinations.

Recently I have been speaking with lawyers about the concept of transparency. In a marketing context, this means finding ways to make the knowledge that you have, and the legal thinking that you are already doing, more readily visible to the outside world. It involves using the new media tools that are now available to show interested audiences the nuts and bolts of what you know, what you do, and what you think, rather than being something separate and apart that is awkwardly appended to your practice after the fact, like the barnacle-laden firm brochures of old.

For lawyers, the challenge now lies in incorporating at least some of these new digital tools into the fabric of your regular workday in a minimally invasive way. If the classic lawyer marketing mantra was “Do good work”, then the “New Marketing” approach can perhaps best be described as “Do good work – visibly.”

For many, this pendulum swing in marketing focus towards showcasing legal expertise represents a welcome step back to the future.

28

Nov 10

Toronto Legal Marketing Association Fall Conference – November 30, 2010

Tuesday November 30, 2010  marks the first full-day conference for the Toronto Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association.

Themed as “The Changing Face of Legal Marketing”  (click the logo above for the conference program and details) the morning sessions are focused around social media with two highly recognized speakers, Mitch Joel and Adrian Dayton, while the afternoon is a diverse looking multi-track program including PR, managing RFPs, creating innovative client experiences and more.

Skunkworks is very pleased to be participating as a sponsor of morning coffee (an area of particular expertise as those who know me personally can attest).  I hope to see you there.

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