Category Archives: Strategy

Shameless Plug Alert: The California Guide to Growing & Managing A Law Office

Grolo2 Cover - Cropped
I heard rumors that people who preordered the book were starting to receive their copies and now it's official.  The book is out.  Obviously, you should buy several copies for members of the entire family as holiday gifts.  After all, what better time to share the knowledge than on, say, Memorial Day weekend?

But I'm not pushing…not…pushing…

ReInventLaw Silicon Valley: GoldenState & the Three Bears

RILSC 2013
What the hell was that???

I’m speaking of the all-day ‘experiment’ (that’s what I’m calling it), ReInventLaw Silicon Valley 2013 conference this past Friday.  Is that a criticism?  Not at all.  This was the kickoff event of a collaborative effort; law students, professors, technologists, investors, inventors, attorneys and everything in-between, all convening in one place (The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, to be exact) to talk about the future direction of law practice.  Approximately 40 speakers in all.  You read that right; 40 speakers in a single day (enough to make an LPMT Chairman cry).

And what did we see?  Good talks, bad talks, decent talks, shameless sales pitches, moderately-shameful sales pitches.  Terrible speakers with outstanding messages, outstanding speakers with terrible messages & mediocre speakers with mediocre messages.  Speakers who went on too long, speakers who didn’t go on long enough and speakers who were juuuust right (yes, this was the LPMT-equivalent of the Three Bears…).

And of course, live streaming Tweets hosted on a PC with an IP-address conflict (DHCP, my friends; old school!).  There were funny tweets about there only being five ties in the room (I happened to be one of them).  My response was to create the hash tag, #thesmartesttiesintheroom.

In other words, I had a great time!  It’s very easy to criticize something like this, I suppose, but the organizers were able to land many hard-to-attain speakers while simultaneously coaxing approximately 350 people (by my rough count of how many actually showed up vs. the 500 tickets that were distributed) to convene in one location for a healthy exchange of ideas.

I gotta go…my porridge is getting cold…

Yahoo! and the Robot (not Remote) Employee

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Wouldn't the world be a perfect place if we simply followed every talking head who pontificates on a subject (yours truly excluded…)?  Of course, the goal doesn't usually involve the content of the story, but to create a bait headline that'll compel a reader to click-through (the shortest way to accomplish this: make them angry).  And what a perfect subject to select for this purpose; Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer rescinds remote privileges!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Then, the experts swoop in to tell us what she's really doing:

  1. Implementing a stealth layoff by pissing-off employees, who will then quit on their own,
  2. Discriminating against working moms (what about dads?),
  3. Taking us back to draconian times!

You get the idea…and you know what?  Every one of these claims might be true!  But, perhaps she is:

  1. Putting her arms around a human resources issue that's grown out of control,
  2. Fostering improved inter-company relations,
  3. Trying to better-assess a situation she can't see.

Mix & match as you like.  Does that mean I support the decision?  It's not about that.  I, like you, can easily cite detriments as well:

  1. More hours/dollars wasted on fuel, time and wear & tear sitting in traffic (I've been wondering whether the increase in traffic would actually be noticeable to outsiders),
  2. Less quality/leisure time with family, friends or hobbies,
  3. More pressure on significant other/spouse/parent to 'pick up the slack' of the Yahoo! employee (i.e. What I'm getting at is, suppose this particular employee is also a caregiver to an elderly parent; it ain't only about children, is it?)
  4. More pressure on single, unattached employee for similar reasons (there are only so many hours in the day for grocery shopping, errands and of course, appointments).
  5. Don't even get me started on morale…at least in the short term.
  6. Higher costs for Yahoo! as well; supporting all of these additional bodies on-site will have a marked effect on resources, such as electricity, maintenance, space allocation, furniture & supplies, etc.

I hate to quote Facebook, but:  It's complicated.

This is why it's extremely difficult to be a manager; too many cooks and Monday-morning quarterbacks.  My favorite is the propensity to quote studies about the benefits/detriments of working remotely.  You know what?  It's irrelevant except as it pertains to Yahoo!! (So, when I want to add a 'bang' to a sentence ending in the word "Yahoo!", is that how I do it?).

Of course, there is a place for statistics and studies as a general guide.  But what matters most is, how do these statistics and studies relate to the specific situation at Yahoo!?  There are a lot of factors involved, and I don't see too many of these articles wading very far into the weeds.

Last point; substitute any other name for Yahoo!  Same rules apply.

P.S.  I've included articles from people who do know the subject well – a lot better than I do, anyway (e.g. Richard Branson) but I think his particular comments answer his own concerns:

"To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A
big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they
are, without supervision
." [Italics added].

Two questions:

  1. Is it possible that Yahoo! harbors irrational mistrust of their employees?
  2. Is it possible that some employees have abused Yahoo!'s trust?

It could be one, both or neither.  I wonder how this will play out in the months leading up to implementation?  I wonder what things will look like six months after implementation?

v-Discovery Insights: Robert Brownstone of Fenwick & West LLP Discusses his Top 3 Concerns in Data Security

Robert Brownstone has been my friend and colleague for many years.  In fact, he was Chairman of @CalBarLPMT two years prior to me.  We recently appeared on a panel together called, "Under Fire: Defending and Challenging a Motion against Technology-Assisted Review – A mock Meet and Confer (26f) hearing".  He played the role of the Plaintiff's attorney and I the Defendant's.  Robert was a late addition to my panel and I was delighted to present with him again!

 

eDiscovery California: Upcoming Panel: eDiscovery and Legal Technology in Practice Conference – San Francisco

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I'm going to be on a roundtable panel at the Thomson Reuters 'eDiscovery and Legal Technology in Practice' Conference 2012 in San Francisco.  It's an all-day event, taking place on December 5th.  It's a terrific agenda; here's the scoop on my specific panel:

12:00pm – 1:10pm

Under Fire: Defending and Challenging a Motion against Technology-Assisted Review – A mock Meet and Confer (26f) hearing.

Panelists:

Nicole Armenio – Kroll Ontrack Solution Architect
Perry Segal – eDiscovery Attorney and Management Consultant, Charon Law
Hon. Socrates Peter Manourkian – Judge of the Superior Court, County of Santa Clara

It's entirely possible that by 1:00pm, the attendees will all be thinking about lunch…

eDiscovery 101: BYOD = BYOA (ASPIRIN)

MP900438810In the upcoming Calbar book, The California Guide to Growing & Managing a Law Office, I do a side-by-side comparison between the benefits and detriments of BYOD.  I'm sure the same sort of comparison takes place in meetings at all kinds of companies.  There's no doubt that on paper, many aspects of BYOD might yield productivity gains and other benefits for the enterprise.

[Note:  In the book, I lay out information in the format of pros and cons because the goal is to inform a reader of the positives and pitfalls so they can make an informed decision.]

So, what's my opinion?  If I was the consultant, in most cases, I'd likely fall into the 'against' column.  Why?  I'll get to that in a moment.

For those of you who don't know my background, at one time or another, I pretty much did every job on the operations side of IT before I ever became a lawyer.  This allows me to look at facts through a wide-angle lens.  The way my mind works, I literally imagine an issue as a 3-D photograph.  Let's apply that to BYOD:

We start by playing 'swap' for a moment.  Imagine coming into work one morning and all of the desktops are different brands and chipsets; some of them are Windows, but a mix of XP, Vista and Seven, others are Macs with various versions of the O/S and still others are Linux boxes.  Now, you may actually see that in some concerns, for good reason.  But I'm talking about literally a different box on each desk in the office.

That would be kind of hard to manage, wouldn't it?

Maybe it wouldn't seem like it to you, but again, I'm thinking very broadly.  We're not just dealing with realities, we're dealing with expectations.  What do I mean by that?

When I read most of the articles that address BYOD, they speak in terms of locking down various functions on a device, such as email, via Exchange, for example.  But that''s not how I'm thinking; and it won't be how the employees/consultants will be thinking, either.

Nope.  If it's a device supporting their job, they expect everyone up the chain to be able to support the entire device – not just components of it.  And, the enterprise should expect this as well, since a non-functioning device will ultimately affect productivity.

It means that your help-desk, field service technicians, level II (and level III) support will have to be proficient with every make and model of Windows Phone, Blackberry, iPhone and – if you'll pardon the pun – every flavor of Android.  Oh, and did anyone give any thought as to how you're going to back them up in such a manner that the company owns/controls the data?

That's what it means, Jelly Bean.

So, if you're considering BYOD, I hope the decision-makers are taking this into account and formulating policy.  Never mind that I didn't get into the fact that, if litigation arises, staff may have to turn over their personal devices for imaging or examination.  I also didn't get into how growth highly affects BYOD.  We all know the person who runs out and purchases the brand-new, untested, unpatched version of X the moment it's on the market.  Apple Maps, anyone?

I hope you bought the 1000-count bottle…

It’s Fun, Until Someone Loses an i

MP900427743Heard any negative news coming from Apple, lately?

You've got this great, new O/S, iOS6 and you've got this great, new iPhone 5 causing excitement everywhere.  And, you just happen to be on the team that developed the new 'Maps' software – which is destined to knock Google Maps off of your devices.  Oh…one more detaiL…the thing is obviously not ready for prime time.

Imagine being in the rollout meetings.  What do you do?  Are you going to be the one to tell the boss that they should hold the release?  I wonder if anyone actually tried to do that (and kept their head).  Of course, you may also enter an alternative universe in which you:

  1. Convince yourself that, contrary to the information in front of you, your product is the "Best Maps app ever!"
  2. Convince yourself that only a few people rely on Maps and it won't be a big deal if it isn't 'perfect'
  3. Ignore the issues entirely and release it, anyway

Did Apple choose door #3?  Inertia is difficult to contravene; after all, a body in motion stays in motion.  I'm pretty sure, based on the fallout, if Apple had the opportunity for a do-over, they'd seriously consider another path.  Pretty sure…they do have a history of a, "Damn the torpedoes!" attitude; but, they're certainly not alone.

Lesson #1 – Never replace a superior product with an inferior one.  Even if your product is 'adequate', customers will already have been 'spoiled' by the previous experience and expect an equal – or greater – experience (otherwise, why switch?).  This will only serve to augment the replacement product's shortcomings, as if one trained a magnifying glass on them.

Hey, I'm not a billionaire…I'm sure Apple isn't particularly interested in my opinion.  However, I did notice how quickly the company gave out the name of the manager in charge of developing the app…

As the Beastie Boys suggest, Check Your Head.