The Connection Is Coming

I reported on this back in the Spring and have been following any news on it that I can find. Mashable reports that Facebook Connect was the darling of the New York Times print edition this weekend, heralding the impending connection between FB and various other social media services and websites. For those new to the subject, FB Connect is “a two way platform which enables web sites to connect with Facebook and allow their users to communicate with their Facebook friends on these sites and away from Facebook itself.” Mashable writer Stan Schroeder was tickled by the fact that mainstream media is becoming as excited about the possibility as us techie-geekie-on-line-types. As noted by Schroeder:

[t]hrough platforms such as Connect [social networking] will become truly ubiquitous, an invisible layer covering the entire world wide web. Whoever controls the biggest piece of the user data/identity pie will be on top of the socnet food chain, and Facebook seems to be doing everything right lately, and this includes getting big press coverage.

Bring it on, FB, bring it on!

Hive Five: Five Best CD and DVD Burning Tools

Want to share data and media with peers, clients, friends or family? No bells and whistles – just check out this Lifehacker list of the five best CD and DVD burning tools. Just in time for the holidays!  Enjoy. 

Hive Five: Five Best CD and DVD Burning Tools

Beyond Micro, There's Nano!

A bit of a stretch for the Studio, but not really. I stumbled upon this interesting article over at LLRX.com about nanotechnology and why law librarians might want to acquaint themselves with the topic. In reality, the article explains why lawyers might want to acquaint themselves with the topic.

I learned much from reading the short article. I learned that a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. At this tiny level, unique properties apparently are observed in certain materials and that these properties are different from those displayed in those materials at the macro level. Application for this science is quite broad and ranges from human health and research to developments construction and engineering fields.

There also are studies suggesting health risks from exposure to the by-products of this technology. The article compares the fibers generated from the carbon tubes created by nanotechnology to asbestos fibers. Of course, that rings all sorts of bells in the mind of a toxic tort insurance coverage lawyer. Whether or not a similar link exists with this technology, the potential will raise the same specter of large scale litigation, and will demand the attention of both plaintiff’s and defense bars.

What is particularly great about this article for me as a researcher is the lengthy list of resource links on the subject. The links are grouped “government, non-profit and research sites”, “blog and news sites” and “legal blogs.” If you are looking for the next big litigation boom, perhaps this is a good place to start. If you are generally curious about the world around you, these links might feed your cutting-edge tech desires.

Beyond Micro, There’s Nano!

A bit of a stretch for the Studio, but not really. I stumbled upon this interesting article over at LLRX.com about nanotechnology and why law librarians might want to acquaint themselves with the topic. In reality, the article explains why lawyers might want to acquaint themselves with the topic.

I learned much from reading the short article. I learned that a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. At this tiny level, unique properties apparently are observed in certain materials and that these properties are different from those displayed in those materials at the macro level. Application for this science is quite broad and ranges from human health and research to developments construction and engineering fields.

There also are studies suggesting health risks from exposure to the by-products of this technology. The article compares the fibers generated from the carbon tubes created by nanotechnology to asbestos fibers. Of course, that rings all sorts of bells in the mind of a toxic tort insurance coverage lawyer. Whether or not a similar link exists with this technology, the potential will raise the same specter of large scale litigation, and will demand the attention of both plaintiff’s and defense bars.

What is particularly great about this article for me as a researcher is the lengthy list of resource links on the subject. The links are grouped “government, non-profit and research sites”, “blog and news sites” and “legal blogs.” If you are looking for the next big litigation boom, perhaps this is a good place to start. If you are generally curious about the world around you, these links might feed your cutting-edge tech desires.

Oh Goody! A New Book To Add To My Wishlist!

Thanks, James Levy, for the tip on a new book on writing to add to my bookshelf: “Alphabet Juice:  The Energies, Gists and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof“, written by humorist and NPR personality Roy Blount Jr. and published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Based on the author, I like it already, but if that doesn’t persuade, then perhaps learning how to construct an entire conversation from vowels might: “ ’ey!” “Eeeee!” “I. . . . ” “Oh, you.” And if that doesn’t do the trick, then perhaps you will be sold on Jack Shafer’s observation that “Blount hangs out in dictionaries the way other writers hang out in bars.”

In any event, a good read on words combined with a few laughs is nothing to sniff at, so add this one to my Amazon reading list!

The Only Constant In Life Is Change

The law firm, as we have known and loved it for these decades, even centuries, is on the brink of a makeover. Maybe makeover is not a strong enough word: how about sex-change operation? This change cannot be ignored. Over this past year, I have been reading stirrings of this change across the blogosphere and in the media. Today, citing an article in the American Lawyer, the ABA Journal adds its voice to the chorus, which started as a barbershop quartet and is quickly reaching Mormon Tabernacle Choir proportions.

News of law firm firings has been fairly constant this fall and the number of laid-off lawyers and dismantled firms is quite staggering. The traditional law firm model is undergoing an assault from outside and from within –  the pressure to remain competitive in a marketplace that is itself evolving at an exponential rate and the pressure to retain and reward top talent and ensure quality work.

The American Lawyer article lists four factors that the author sees as pushing the change:

a changing law firm model spurring less loyalty among associates

nonlawyer investment, such as soon will be allowed in England, and inroads in non-lawyer funding elsewhere threatening established methods of law practice and law firm regulations

corporate clients that are increasingly dissatisfied with high hourly billing rates and big associate salaries, as evidenced by the Association of Corporate Counsel’s launch of its “Value Challenge,” an initiative to spur alternative billing by companies’ outside law firms

the impact of technology that will allow routine matters to be handled more quickly and at a lower cost.

These factors are quite real and are definitely molding the practice. Firms like Axiom Legal have taken a serious look at the industry and have adapted accordingly. And individual lawyers are taking note too, by increasingly looking to practitioners like Susan Cartier Liebel and Carolyn Elefant to assist in establishing a lean, mean solo practice or to consultants like Stephanie Kimbro to help create their own virtual law office. And if the growing number of lawyers on Twitter is any indication, the current generation of attorneys is certainly waking up to the changes, if not understanding what the changes will ultimately mean for their practice.

Is our response as an industry going to be fast enough? That question will have to be answered on a firm-by-firm, attorney-by-attorney basis. Clearly, those who ignore the changes will find it more and more difficult to maintain the same level of business and income. When the pain of change no longer exceeds the pain of staying the same, change will certainly follow.