Category Archives: LawFirms

Going to Techshow, Check Out LexThink.1

Lexthink.1 will be occurring the evening before the ABA Techshow. on March 26th, 2014 at the Hilton Chicago. If you’re going to be attending Techshow on the 27th-29th, make an effort to get to this and spend a little time thinking about the future of law practice. The idea of Lexthink is similar to the

If you’re interested in doing a presentation, you’ve got less than a week to submit your talk.

The event is designed similarly to the Ignite events, slightly tweaked. You have 6 minutes, and 20 slides, to do your presentation, and it must be on the topic of overcoming the significant challenges the legal profession is currently facing. Speakers will be chosen by public voting after the submissions have been made.

It should be an interesting show, full of lots of food for thought. Even though I won’t be at Techshow, I plan to follow the discussion on Social Media during the entire show, but especially on the evening of the 26th. If you wind up there and plan to tweet, or write about it, leave a comment so those of us unlucky enough to be elsewhere that week can follow along!

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Discount on Boxcryptor Until the End of the Year

If you’ve never heard of Boxcryptor, it’s software that automatically encrypts the data you are storing with cloud providers, like GDrive or Dropbox. It’s free for personal use, which allows you to encrypt the data for one cloud provider, but it is also available for sale for personal “Pro” versions and commercial use.

For example you could use it on a Google Drive account and it works pretty well. The Windows version of the software encrypted the data stored there, and the iOS version decrypts it and allows you to view the files. That’s about what I’d expect. I haven’t yet done more with it, or purchased the Pro version to see how it works with more, but if you have, let me know what you think of it.

They are offering a 20% discount to folks who are interested in making the purchase until Dec. 31, 2013 as part of reaching out to those of us who work in the legal industry, where we sure could use some encryption on data our users might just be storing in the cloud for easy access, despite what the IT policies might say.  Just use the code boxcryptorlaw20

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My Latest on eDiscovery Insight – Working with DAT Files

It’s up over on the AccessData blog. It’s part of a “Tips from the Trainers” series, and is all about working with Concordance DAT files in Summation 5.0 now that we can load those files directly without the need to convert them.

Hope you find it useful!

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ILTA Recorded Sessions

Back when I used to attend ILTA as a member, I always struggled to figure out what sessions to go to an what one’s I would miss. It was often a tough choice. Now, as someone working for a vendor, there are typically only one or two sessions I even manage to find the time to get to

That’s why I’m making a note here for myself, and others, to take a quick look at the recorded sessions page. It’s not the same as being there for the session as it happens, but when you can’t be there getting the information is better than nothing!

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Must be Pretty Popular

How in demand must ediscovery skills be that you can have one website dedicated to Litigation Support careers conducting a talent drive, while another hroup is launching another site dedicated to ediscovery careers?

I’d say there must be some serious demand out there, wouldn’t you?

Now, since I’m not really in the market, I haven’t been involved much in either of the sites, but if you have been looking at them, from either the employee or employer side, what do you think about it?

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Successful Legal IT Careers

Jared Coseglia, who knows a thing or two about Legal IT careers as a recruiter, has written an great article for the latest issue of ILTA’s Peer to Peer magazine, entitled Starting and Sustaining a Career As A Legal IT Professional

In it Jared doles out some advice on many things, and I highly recommend you check out the whole thing, but if you’re rushed for time this holiday season, go ahead and bookmark it to read later, and check out the Top 7 Takeaways:

  1. Technology evolves rapidly, and so must you.
  2. Specialization increases value.
  3. Always reinvest in yourself.
  4. Relationships are what make pathways to success available.
  5. Credibility, accuracy and diplomacy are key qualities for team players.
  6. Relocation is an option.
  7. Career visibility can increase career mobility.

Full disclosure – I’ve known Jared for a few years now and consider him and the folks who work with him not just a top-notch recruiting firm, but also as friends. We first met at the ILTA conference when he attended a panel session I was part of and he came up and introduced himself. His company then recruited me to relocate to South Carolina to work for a firm, before I eventually was recruited away from there by my current boss, who I had also met and known for a few years before going to work for her. Given that story, you can see how much I agree with Jared when he talks about the importance of relationships, investing the time and energy to keep learning, and being visible. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those things.

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IT People Fix Things

We can’t help it. It’s in our nature to fix things that are broken. That’s what attracted us to working with technology in the first place. More than likely we started out troubleshooting, seeing how things worked and understanding what was wrong so that we could fix it, or maybe even improve upon it. That’s how we roll.

So when I saw an article entitled When IT Tries to do Too Much, my immediate reaction was that IT is generally trying to fix things, so if the IT folks in your organization are doing too much, it’s very likely because someone else isn’t doing what they should. That idea crystallized for me today, when I saw another article, Communication is not an IT Issue. In it, Wayne Turmel explains:

But the key thing to remember is that what your IT folks are responsible for is providing and maintaining the tools. Their job is to make sure the right ones and zeros get where they are supposed to go in a fast and secure matter. Data transfer is their bailiwick. But true communication is more than data transfer, and that’s where we come in.

So, IT provides email services. How we write, file, save and ultimately use those emails is not their issue. It’s not the fault of your local geeks to make sure that nobody abuses the CC function. That’s your job as the leader.

It’s with that context that I go back to Chuck Hollis’ examples of IT doing too much:

Someone in the business calls up IT with a mid-sized request: interesting, but not earth-shaking.  If they get the runaround, I can easily predict the next phone call they’ll make. 

And IT people wonder why everyone is starting to use external services to get their work done :)

Bottom line: if IT attempts to ration consumption, smart people will inevitably find other ways to get the job done.  IT is an expense.  Finance is usually the people who watch the expense line. 

Sure, IT creates the capability to protect and monitor, implements established policies, and raises a notification when those policies aren’t being followed, or there’s a new risk to consider.

But I think there’s a clear line between those important roles, and IT thinking of themselves of judge, jury and executioner.

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#5 — IT Thinks Its Job Is To Make IT Decisions For Business People

Errr, often it’s a business decision being made that involves IT, and not a classic “IT decision”.  IT provides services to the business, remember?

Often, these kinds of situations arise simply because someone else isn’t doing what they are supposed to. Many managers and HR people would rather not be the “bad-guy” and don’t deal with policy violations, many finance people would rather not deal with telling people no, and many leaders simply don’t make business decisions when there is technology is involved. So these things get tossed down to the IT department, who try and fix things.

Let’s take these one at a time.

  • Policy Violations: Most often, it’s IT people who are in a position to notice when someone is doing something they shouldn’t be, whether it’s accessing websites they shouldn’t, sending the company’s private data in email, storing private documents in consumer cloud services, etc. They flag it to the attention of HR, or a manager. That person doesn’t truly understand the risk and does one of two things, throws it back at the IT person to investigate and decide on the appropriate fix (typically blocking the sites in question, or adding levels of security to prevent access to company information), or they do nothing at all. Occasionally, they will simply use a “flag” from IT as proof enough, and carry out punishment without further investigation, thus making IT the judge, jury and executioner by default. I’ve been in this situation before, it did not end with an understanding that the person shouldn’t have been doing what they did and that it was a management decision to act, it ended with the entire organization having the impression that the IT staff was out to “catch” them, leaving management with no choice but to act. Yes, somehow we were forcing management’s hand.
  • Financial decisions: Again, in theory, yes the decision to spend money is a finance decision, not an IT one. However, if your IT Department has it’s own budget, and is being held responsible for sticking within that budget, then you have put them in a position to make decisions based on their budget. If all technology purchases come from that piece of the budget pie, you’ve ceded the financial decisions to IT.
  • Business Decisions:: How many business “leaders” simply assign a budgetary number to IT, and let their CIO decide where to spend it? Pay attention law firm folks, this absolutely happens in your environment, quite often. Is there a business reason to upgrade to Windows 7 this year, is there a business reason to upgrade the Exchange Server, or move to a SAN? Is there a business reason to implement cloud based storage, or internal IM tools? Is there a business person deciding whether to do those things, or is the IT department doing it, and you simply shrug when someone complains about the constant change being forced on them by IT? There are, to be truthful, plenty of business reasons to do all of these things, but if you’re doing them just because IT told you they needed to be done, again, you’ve ceded responsibility to IT when it comes to deciding how to utilize and deploy your technology resources.

IT in your organization may be doing too much. In fact, it probably is, but before you go running off to blame IT for getting in the way and not understanding that they are a business service, take a look in the mirror and recognize that you might just share the blame. When management cedes the responsibility of making their own tough choices, IT has little choice but to step into these roles. We don’t do it happily. (Well, most of us don’t.) We’d much rather talk to you about how to provide what you need, but when you stick us all down in the basement, behind a locked door, and hand us responsibility for “keeping the lights on”, without going over our budget, well, you’ll get this. Problems like this don’t exist in a vacuum. If management doesn’t step up and make decisions, they still get made. They just get made by the IT people who have to implement them, instead of the business people who are expected to get business done with the tools given to them. Truly, it would be better to make them together, but then you might have to talk to an IT person occasionally, or understand a thing or two about technology. You’re right, it’s probably better to just keep doing what you’re doing. ;-)

 

 

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Heading to ILTA 2012 – Another Different Experience

Last year, I attended the annual ILTA conference in Nashville as just an attendee, with no speaking commitments. That made for a bit of a different experience than the previous years that I had attended, and I enjoyed the freedom to attend more sessions, enjoy the social gatherings without fretting for missing prep time for a session the next day, etc. I got to see the conference in a bit of a different light when I wasn’t involved in any of it as intimately as I had been as a speaker.

This year, I’ll be seeing the conference from yet another perspective, as I attend for the first time as a vendor, as opposed to an ILTA member. I honestly have no idea what to expect. If I were part of our sales team, I would tell you to come by the booth and say hello, but I’m not part of the sales team. While I expect I will be around at the booth at various times, that won’t be my main responsibility. My main responsibility will be in providing support for our sales team, especially in our hands-on demo lab. So at the very least, I know I’ll be in our demo room during the morning demo sessions Tuesday-Thursday. I can also assume I’ll be in that room setting up on Monday, and packing it up Thursday afternoon. Aside from that, I may be at the booth some talking to our customers, I may try and hit a session or two, and some of the networking events during the evenings. It’s hard to say for sure, since this will be a brand new experience for me!

Still, I hope to see some old friends, say hello and catch up a bit, even if I am over on the dark side now…. ;-)

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Going to Training

I really enjoyed this post by Kevin Eikenberry yesterday. Read This Before You Attend Your Next Training Session

It reminded me of many of my pet peeves when doing training internally, let alone now that I’m an outside trainer. See if this sounds familiar:

You send your folks out to a day of training on some software tool. They are very excited to be out of the office for the day! They spend an inordinate amount of time planning their lunch trip, or maybe their post training class group outing. On the day of the training, they are mostly concerned with getting done early. They don’t ask questions that might drag the class out longer, despite the fact that the instructor is now 5 steps ahead of them and there’s no hope they’ll ever figure out what they are talking about. Or, they spend half the day looking at their blackberry, keeping up with what’s going on at the office instead of the training you’re paying for, because you keep sending them messages.

Then they come back to use the new tool, only they really don’t know much more about it than they did before. At this point, two things happen. They decide the training was bad, and they hate the new tool. Your group never, ever, recovers from this and you wind up with a very expensive tool that your staff simply works around as much as possible.

I’ve seen this in my IT experience as well as in law firms. One of my first IT jobs as working for a small office that had spent a significant sum to implement a customer management database system about a year before I started. I soon discovered that everyone in the office hated it. They had organized training classes, and for whatever reason, everyone disliked the trainer, decided they didn’t want to pay attention any more, never learned how to use the system, and therefore they decided it sucked. I spent almost 7 years in that job, and never, ever overcame that with the folks who were there before me. I was successful, as we had new staff come in, in training them and getting them to actually use it more, but there was no overcoming the first impression of the others.

Now, as a trainer, I keep that experience in mind when I start with a new group. I don’t want to be the reason they hate our product. ;-)

The thing is, I have no idea whether the trainer they had was any good or not. I wasn’t there. It’s possible that this is all that trainer’s fault, but I can’t help but feel like the people who got the training, and the management of the organization also hold some responsibility. When you’re sent to training, you are there to learn. Be professional and put aside your personal feelings about the training and learn what you can, regardless of how much you may not like them.

Likewise, when you send people out for training, look for well-qualified trainers and demand they train your people. If there are problems, talk to someone and get them corrected. Secondly, if there aren’t problems, and your people come back without any evidence of having actually learned anything, hold them accountable as well. Find out why they didn’t ask the instructor, if the class was not structured to fit your needs, etc. It hugely inefficient to have expensive tools that your staff is doing everything they can to NOT use. There was a reason you made this investment, shouldn’t you be getting the most out of it?

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And The World Keeps Turning….

Apparently, while 2011 was a year of huge changes for me, the changes just keep coming in 2012. I won’t be relocating again, but I will be switching jobs, and that is going to also impact what I’m doing on this site. I’ve accepted a Litigation Support Trainer position with AccessData. I’ll be based out of my home office, doing online training and various other projects from there, while also traveling to do onsite training, working at some of the various trade shows, etc.

I’ll also be contributing to AD’s eDiscovery Insight Blog (http://ediscoveryinsight.com/). In the interest of not competing with myself, or with the company that pays my bills, I will not be writing about the legal industry or litigation support on this site any longer, short of pointing you to things I write over there.

What does that mean for mikemcbrideonline.com? I think it goes back to being the blog it started out as all those years ago. A little tech, some geeky stuff, some personal lessons learned about careers and travel, and, of course, photography. I’ll still be sharing interesting articles in the legal and litigation support fields, here and on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, along with links to various other things I find interesting. There won’t be a complete purge of all things legal, but it certainly won’t be the main focus the way it has been for the last few years.

If you’ve been coming here for the litigation support stuff, I hope you’ll join us over on eDiscovery Insight, and I hope to be able to continue to share information and insights with you in various ways. If you’ve been following along for years and trying your best to weed through the boring legal stuff, I hope you’ll enjoy the new turn on the site. Just bear with me as I go through an adjustment period and figure out exactly what I’m doing around here. ;-)

On a personal note, I’m excited by this new opportunity. I’ll be working with a great team, at a very exciting time in the history of the Summation product line. I’ll be getting a chance to teach others, and help them understand this crazy world of eDiscovery, on a regular basis. It will certainly make for a different 2012 than I was expecting, but a very interesting one too!

Hopefully, I’ll even get a chance to meet up with some of you in my travels, or at trade shows, so stay in touch!

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