A Look Back at 2006
In keeping with the theme of this month's Law Practice Today, we thought we would revisit some of our favorite sites that we've mentioned in Strongest Links columns this year. We tried to choose one or two sites from each topic, so what you're seeing here is truly the Strongest Strongest Links -- the best of the best. Enjoy, and we'll see you again in the New Year!
Web 2.0 -- January 2006 (View article)
What is Web 2.0? -- back in September 2005, Tim O'Reilly wrote perhaps one of the best descriptions of Web 2.0, and it still holds up at the end of 2006. To make the Web 2.0 phenomenon easier to understand, he describes the Web 2.0 versions of Web 1.0 sites -- for example, Britannica Online is an example of a Web 1.0 site, where Wikipedia is its Web 2.0 successor. This is a must-read article for anyone wanting to learn more about the future of the Internet.
Word Processing Tools -- What began the year as Writely ended the year as Google Docs, and in our opinion it's one of the most accessible Web 2.0 tools for lawyers this year. In fact, we wrote all of our Strongest Links articles using this tool, a terrific word processing site that allows you to collaborate on documents together over the Internet. It is fairly full-featured utility, with just about everything you need to create a document. When you're done, you can save your document in Word, OpenOffice, or as an RTF or PDF file. There's an RSS feed for each document, and you can also make use of "tagging" to designate your documents.
The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 -- is the best single article listing useful Web 2.0 applications and ranking the best ones. It's a great starting point and Dion Hinchcliffe deserves a big thank you for this one. As a bonus, check out his Most Promising Web 2.0 Software of 2006 with even more great sites.
Human Resources -- February 2006 (View article)
Employment Law Information Network -- this site is designed for employment lawyers, in-house employment counsel, and human resource professionals. You'll find articles from lawyers around the country, updated regularly. There are also terrific links to sample HR forms and policies.
Strategic HR Lawyer -- this is the blog of Diane Pfadenhauer, a New York attorney who's talking about strategic human resources management, workplace investigations and other employment law issues.
ABA TECHSHOW Blogs -- March 2006 (View article)
ABA TECHSHOW Blog -- The ABA TECHSHOW blog features posts by ABA TECHSHOW speakers on current legal technology issues, year-round. Most of the authors you’ll find here do not have blogs, so this is a great Internet outlet for their collective wisdom. You'll also find regular news and updates on the technology conference, which next takes place March 22-24, 2007.
Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog -- Jim's blog was voted “Favorite Practice Management Weblog of 2005” by TechnoLawyer, and if you visit you’ll be able to see why. Each week he offers up great law practice management tips on technology, marketing, finance, and more.
Outsourcing -- April 2006 (View article)
GlobalServices -- aimed at providing "strategies for sourcing people, processes and technologies," this site provides up-to-date news, whitepapers and blog entries on the whole issue of outsourcing.
Outsourcing Center -- billed as the Internet's most prominent resource on outsourcing, this site provides free research, case studies, database directories, market intelligence, and other content on emerging trends and best practices on outsourcing. The Outsourcing Journal contains articles by lawyers on outsourcing and offshoring issues.
Marketing -- May 2006 (View article)
Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices -- Gerry Riskin is a Canadian lawyer and Co-Founder of Edge International, a marketing consulting firm. He's discussing law firm marketing as well as other topics related to successful law firm management.
David Maister -- the one blog from a non-lawyer, but probably one of the most valuable. David Maister is widely acknowledged as one of the leading authorities on the management of professional services firms, and now he's giving away a lot of great advice, for free, at his weblog. He's also recorded a series of podcasts on such topics as "Lessons I've Learned" and "Career Development" -- they are a must-listen for anyone interested in increasing their marketing and professional development awareness.
Improvement Sites -- June 2006 (View article)
Lifehacker -- This blog is consistently in the top 10 of the sites we read each day. As you might gather from the title, a "lifehack" is a tip, utility or other useful item that will make your life easier. And that's just what Lifehacker does -- it recommends downloads, Web sites, and shortcuts that will actually save you time. Recent posts include "E-Mail Etiquette," "Upload Google Docs via E-Mail," and "Learn to Combat Spyware and Adware." And those posts were just on one day.
YouSendIt -- More and more, we find ourselves having to e-mail very large files to people -- usually PowerPoint files, for our presentations. Unfortunately, many ISPs have limits on the size of attachments that can travel through their pipes. It's good to have a service like YouSendIt that can handle the heavy lifting. Just upload the file, along with the e-mail addresses of everyone you'd like to receive the file; they'll receive a link to the file, which will be automatically deleted after seven days. You can send up to 100MB for free; to send more (up to 2GB!), you'll pay about $5/month.
The Mobile Road Warrior -- August 2006 (View article)
Your Virtual Office -- Probably the most useful tool a lawyer can have while traveling is the ability to see and use everything that's on his or her computer back at the office. Fortunately, several "virtual desktop" programs are available to accomplish this task. GoToMyPC is probably familiar to many of you; it provides unlimited access to your PC from anywhere. And the price is pretty reasonable, too -- $19.95/month, or $179.40/year for a single PC. You can transfer files from one computer to another, print documents to any printer, and even view your desktop from your Windows CE mobile device. And it's all encrypted, so your data is kept safe. The prices are even cheaper at LogMeIn -- $12.95/month or $69.95/year for one PC. Better still, there's a free version that offers fewer features than the Pro offering.
Portable Applications -- If you're not bringing your own computer when you travel, you might at least consider bringing your own applications. PortableApps.com currently offers 18 programs that you can temporarily install on any computer, and then take it with you when you leave. The programs include the Firefox browser, Thunderbird e-mail client, OpenOffice office suite, and portable instant messaging programs. Load the programs on a USB thumb or flash drive, then plug them into the computer you're temporarily using. When you're done, the program saves itself on your USB drive, and leaves no trace on the host computer that you were even there. Another good program to try is Pass2Go from the folks who bring us RoboForm. This product keeps track of your passwords and bookmarks, and logs you into online accounts. Just like PortableApps, it stays on your USB drive, and leaves no evidence on the computer you were using. Even better, all of these portable applications are absolutely free to use.
EDD-ucating Yourself about Electronic Discovery -- October 2006 (View article)
DiscoveryResources.org reigns as the best one-stop shop Internet resource on electronic discovery. Julia Wotipka has done an amazing job with this educational site produced by EDD vendor Fios, Inc. From articles and columns (including one that we write with Evan Schaeffer) to webinars, podcasts and forms, you can find almost anything you want about electronic discovery here. (See disclosure statement below).
DISCLOSURE: DiscoveryResources.org and Fios are sponsors of Dennis's blog and website.
Electronic Discovery Law is published by the firm of Preston, Gates & Ellis. The blog primarily analyzes court decisions on e-discovery issues. You'll also find posts on the new amendments, as well as an amazing e-discovery case database that allows you to tailor your search to any one (or more) of 19 different attributes of electronic evidence.
The E-Discovery Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is really the site of the year, now that they have gone into effect as of December 1. The full text of the rules are set forth here, along with lengthy commentary on what is to be expected under the new rules. For more on what these rules mean, check out November's column.
RSS Resources You Can Use -- November 2006 (View article)
RSS: What Is It? -- Depending on who you talk to, the acronym RSS stands for a couple of different things: Really Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary are the most commonly used. For a good, technical definition of the term, check out Wikipedia on RSS, and the above-mentioned Web Feeds definition. Tom's favorite new description of RSS comes from RSS the Oprah Way, which describes RSS as "I'm Ready for Some Stories!" If you're looking for a more visual way of understanding RSS and how to use it, we both agree that the RSS Tutorial for Law Librarians tutorial webcast is a great place to start. Even though it's designed for law librarians, anyone can benefit from the content.
How to Read RSS Feeds -- If you ask Dennis, he'd suggest that you start with the online news reader at NewsGator.com, because you can easily transition to NewsGator's standalone products -- NewsGator for Outlook (installs directly into your email program), FeedDemon and NetNewsWire for Macs. Tom agrees with that advice, because he uses both Newsgator Online as well as FeedDemon; however, he'd also recommend starting out with the Google Reader -- it's very easy to export your RSS feeds to a stand-alone product if you choose to go with one down the road.
How Might Lawyers and Law Firms Use RSS Feeds? -- Steve Matthews wrote a helpful article called "Top Ten Uses for RSS in Law Firms" that we highly recommend. In simplest terms, RSS opens a new channel of communication to clients and others that will increasingly be used. We're as enthusiastic about the potential (and reality) of RSS feeds as we were three years ago. If you haven't dipped into the world of RSS, there's no time like the present.