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June 2008

What are the Benefits of Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)?

There is an interesting discussion going on over at the LinkedIn Intellectual Property Message Board concerning legal process outsourcing (LPO).

There are some who argue that legal process outsourcing - essentially using virtual worker - could save up to fifty percent of costs.  There’s also an indication that law firms such as Clifford Chance, Smith Dornan, Dean, LLP have already set up captive outsourcing operations in India and that other large law firms will be following the trend.

One commenter indicates that outsourcing creates the potential for a loss and control over the project, difficulty in enforcing outsourcing agreements in countries where legal recourse is unreliable, confidentiality concerns and taking away legal services from American attorneys. 

I always find the commentary concerning the use of virtual workers to be somewhat strained.  First off, it has always been unclear to me why anyone would send outsource services to India when there are thousands of virtual law clerks and paralegals right here in the United States at virtually the same rates (or less) as being charged offshore.  I would much rather have a Harvard law student performing law clerk tasks, than someone in India.  Chances are the United States-based law student will work harder for less. 

One comment is worth exploring a little further.  There is a risk of losing control over the tasks being performed unless there are active management systems in place.  We use an extranet system in order to manage projects.  Every project is defined as a small task in the extranet.  The background information is provided into the extranet.  Most of the content is dictated into the extranet, making it extremely easy for any attorney to impart their thoughts on a virtual worker.  If a task isn’t being done properly, the cause most of the time will be inappropriate management by the attorney involved.  An extranet can help you break up the project into small enough pieces that they become essentially “idiot proof” and manage the tasks effectively towards defined deliverables. 


One of the First Fully-Integrated Blog/Websites for any Law Firm

We have just completed phase one of our redesign for www.traverselegal.com.  Because we started our blogs a long time ago using typepad.com, we had to face a difficult choice.  We could either export our TypePad feeds into a brand new blog under the traverselegal.com domain or stick with TypePad.  If we launched a brand new series of blogs, we would have essentially lost all our incoming links.  We decided to stay with TypePad and design our law firm website around our 9 niche blogs.

If you navigate our website now, you will notice that the static/brochure style web pages have the exact same design as the blog pages.  Navigation is perfectly seamless between blogs and the website.  Even cooler, the last three blog post from each of our niche blogs are pulled onto our homepage as news feeds.  The result is a professional website with dynamic content in each of our practice areas.  We believe that the design at www.traverselegal.com represents the future of law firm websites.  There should be no distinction between the dynamic content that is generated by blogging and the primary website of the law firm.  After all, blogging is just an easy way to post great professional, expert content.  While many attorney blogs are completely separate from the main website, or are accessible off the main website but incorporate a distinct design, colors and logos, it is quite simply no longer necessary to separate a professional blog from the firm website.  They should be seamless in design and navigation. 

Check it out for yourself at www.traverselegal.com.  You will see the blogs listed along the right-hand margin.  Welcome to the future of law firm website design!  As always, your thoughts, feedback and input are welcome.


Virtual Worker Job Board For Law Firms

Every week, we receive dozens of resumes from individuals who want to be virtual law clerks, virtual lawyers, virtual paralegals and general virtual staff.  Clearly, there are a tremendous number of incredibly talented people out there who are offering their service as virtual contractors. 

The Greatest American Lawyer Blog is proud to announce that it has purchased and launched a free virtual worker / job posting board at http://virtualworkers.greatestamericanlawyer.com/.  Virtual workers can upload their resumes in order to seek employment from law firms, corporations seeking to supplement their in-house legal staff and other people and entities interested in contracted workers. 

If you are a virtual worker looking an employer match, feel free to create a profile and upload your resume here

If you are an employer who is seeking virtual workers within the legal services industry, upload your job posting here.

At Traverse Legal, we believe that virtual workers will be a significant part of the labor pool for law firms, lawyers and other companies looking for legal professionals.  To all my fellow bloggers out there, we would appreciate if you would announce and link to this new service as we continue to promote the virtual worker model as THE BEST singular alternative for law firms and in-house legal staff to solve the problem of knowing when to hire that next worker, the constant fluctuation of workloads and obtaining specialized workers within niche practice areas.


Finally, Dictation Software for Your Cell Phone

What is the one piece of technology that you carry around with you virtually everywhere?  Of course, the answer is the cell phone.  I have been clamoring for years for an integrated dictation devise for my cell phone.  For those of you who own a Blackberry, your prayers are now answered by developer Shape Services and their software application VR+

Not only does the software work seamlessly with your Blackberry, routing your dictation via email or the network to your staff, it is the first piece of Blackberry software to receive a 10 out of 10 rating review from Berryreview.com.

Continue reading "Finally, Dictation Software for Your Cell Phone" »


Case Management Solutions for Law Firms

There is an interesting discussion and a number of link resources over at the LinkedIn business networking questions and answer section.  A variety of attorneys have suggested different software tools for case management.  Of course, basecamphq.com is included.  Two new ones which I have not seen before are Open Practice and Serengeti Legal Matter Management and E-Billing System.

Has anyone had any experience with either Serengeti or Open Practice?  Does anyone have any other case management software tools which are web enabled to add to the list?


No Woman Who Behaved Ever Changed History

I saw a t-shirt the other day that said “A woman who behaves never changes history.”   The t-shirt struck me for several reasons.  First, because I have had the pleasure of representing three amazing women who started a Digg site for women, now called Kirtsy.com. The website quickly exploded with traffic much to the surprise of the founders who now run one of the highest traffic women-centric portals on the internet.

Continue reading "No Woman Who Behaved Ever Changed History" »


Technology Lets You Work from Anywhere

Technology allows you to work from anywhere.  Most of our clients are not local companies.  But we connect to those clients through our Extranet, GoToMeeting and related applications.  Here are a few things about where I live in Traverse City Michigan.  Last week, I had to slow my car to avoid a family of porcupines crossing the road and several deer bounding across both lanes of traffic.  The people here are amazingly genuine and friendly, unlike the big cities where most lawyers toil.   Every time you go to the grocery store, you see people you know. 

Most lawyers are stuck practicing for big-law in the big city.  Don’t they realize that technology would empower them to successful working from paradise?


Creative Commons Licenses Fail To Protect Bloggers From Content Theft

Susan Cartier Liebel has a great post called "Shouldn't You Have To Ask Permission If You Want To Take A Blog's Feed For Your Profit?" She notes that:

This has been troubling me for a while.  And it just may go over like a lead balloon for some of you. We all work really hard on creating quality blog content, building our readership, creating trust in order to sell our legal services.  We publish it on our blogs, some under a creative commons license.  But when we started publishing did we automatically implicitly give any one person or company the right to gather our blog's feed and present our feeds in an aggregated format so they may profit off our reputation and work....without our permission?

The Creative Commons license which most bloggers choose is the "attribution non-commercial no derivatives work license 3.0."  However, this license is inadequate in several ways. First, commercial use is hardly the touchstone since most sites include Google adwords at this point.  It is the legitimacy of the web site which is using your content that is the core issue.  Illegitimate web sites which simply harvest thrid-part content are easy to spot.  In order to protect against sites which merely accumulate feeds or copy content, we reworked the creative commons license to include the following language:

Continue reading "Creative Commons Licenses Fail To Protect Bloggers From Content Theft " »