The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies – Work from Home Edition

Check out this Q&A with Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell about their new book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies – Work from Home Edition.

What is the main message of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies – Work from Home Edition?

People want to work with people who make it easy to work with them. Law, by its nature, is a collaborative profession. We collaborate every day and we need to get good at it. We now have a whole toolbox of collaboration tools and technologies to choose from that can help us work better with clients, colleagues, and others. By investing time and effort, talking with clients and other collaborators, and using this guide, you can quickly get up to speed on developing a collaboration strategy and working on becoming excellent at collaboration.

Who is your book written for/ Who would get the most out of reading your book?

The target audience is people who make decisions about and buy the technology that gets used in the legal profession. It’s also for people who work on improving processes and the ways people work together. And, not least of all, it’s for those struggling with making things work better in our new hybrid work environment.
We’d like to see firms, law departments, and other legal organizations provide a copy of the book to everyone on their technology committees, put a copy or two on the shelves of their law libraries, and give them to their IT people or consultants. Solo and small firm lawyers will want to read this book themselves, as they are often the decisionmakers when it comes to buying and using technology. The book is essential for anyone in the legal profession looking to level up their legal tech game by focusing on technologies that improve the way they work with others and make their own lives easier than they are now.

What inspired you to write this book?

In a word, COVID. Although this is the third edition of our book, we decided to call it the Work from Home Edition for this very reason. The pandemic forced legal professionals and legal organizations of all kinds to rethink every aspect of doing legal work. “Zoom” became a household word. Suddenly, although collaboration tools had been around for years, lawyers were finally confronted with the necessity of using them. Although we were due to write a new edition of the book, the pandemic and the response of the legal profession accelerated our timetable.

What experience, knowledge or special training helped you to write this book?

This is the third edition of our highly regarded book on collaboration tools and technologies first published in 2008. Our names are almost synonymous with this subject area. We cover collaboration technology topics consistently on our podcast, The Kennedy-Mighell Report. We keep up to date on the topic and provide resources about it. And we eat our own dog food; we test out and use many of the collaboration tools we mention in the book.

What problem faced by lawyers does your book solve/address?

Simply put, how can lawyers make it easier for clients and others to work with them in today’s changing environment? Other professions like the medical profession, with its use of patient portals, have moved well ahead of the legal profession in collaboration technologies. The tools, approaches, and models are available, so how do lawyers catch up?

How is The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies – Work from Home Edition different from other books written on this topic?

To our knowledge, there are no other books written on collaboration tools for lawyers. But if there were, we imagine what would make it different is that this book is practical, not theoretical. There are no footnotes. It’s a guide that walks you through the tools, provides checklists and templates, and focuses on how to make practical decisions.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

The collaboration tools adopted by most lawyers, especially Zoom and Microsoft Teams, were evolving right in front of our eyes. New tools were appearing, and new collaboration features were being added to existing tools. Just as fast, many collaboration tools were dying or disappearing from view. The world of collaboration technology moves quickly, and we had to account for that in the book. We wrote the book in the most intense period of collaboration we’ve ever seen. That made writing the book both fun and a challenge.

What do you think will surprise readers most about your book?

We hope the biggest surprise will be how easy it is, and how low the barrier to entry it is to get good at collaboration tools and technologies in a short time, if you put in the effort. We also suspect that many readers will be surprised by how many collaboration tools are included in software and cloud services they already use.

What is the most important takeaway readers will get from your book?

Collaboration tools are an essential part of everyone’s technology stack, but you must understand how your current collaboration processes work and how you want them to work in the future. The book shows you ways to close that gap and provides practical approaches, action steps, and recommendations for achieving your collaboration goals.

What advice would you give to others who want to write a book for the Law Practice Division?

Talk with your representative intended audience so you know what interests them most. Look at the most popular articles you’ve written, presentations you’ve given, or podcasts you’ve done; there might be a book topic in there. Then work your way through the book proposal form to make sure you’ve thought through everything about your book and publishing it. Provide writing samples to demonstrate your experience. Finally, develop a short pitch for the book and reach out to the Law Practice Division Publishing Board showing how prepared you are to write the book and where the audience is.

Dennis Kennedy

Dennis Kennedy is a well-known legal tech and innovation advisor, law professor, infotech lawyer, professional speaker, author, and podcaster. Dennis is currently the Director of the Michigan State University Center for Law, Technology & Innovation and teaches courses at both Michigan State University College of Law and the University of Michigan Law School.

Tom Mighell

Hi! I’m Tom Mighell, and I’m currently Vice President of Delivery at Contoural, Inc., where I help companies address their information governance, records management, and litigation readiness issues. I’ve been a technology nut for going on thirty years now, and I love working with lawyers to help them use technology in ways that provide great service to their clients.

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