Dennis’ Meditation on the Fully Connected Law Firm

Wonderful provocative essay by Dennis Kennedy in which he talks about the role of information within law. The piece is just a lttle dated, but still wonderfully provocative.
He ends with Ten Recommendations:

Here are ten ideas about what to do – and a lot of them are still valid:

1. Meditate on the word “reintermediation.” In what ways can you reinsert value into the process in which you are involved?

2. Embrace the Internet. Use the Internet develop your ideas. As you develop your Internet presence, consider how the Internet changes your business model.

3. Think about what services you can turn into products. Videos, books, pamphlets.

4. Self-cannibalization. This term is used in the technology industry. The notion is that if you are aware that there are areas in which you’ll be vulnerable to competition in the next few years, then you should consider being your first and toughest competitor in those areas. You should be willing to put yourself out of those businesses. This approach has huge implications in a law firm where you may be considering a limiting certain areas of practices and focusing on others.

5. Fast prototyping. Get the idea, get it out there, try it.

6. Do not fight the last war. Pulling up the drawbridges, relying on state regulation, and enforcing the legal monopoly are bound to be losers in the Internet.

7. Focus on cost-cutting, both for you and for your clients. The Internet gives you some ways to save postage, long distance and other costs. Focus on ways to save the money. More important, focus on ways to make it cheaper and easier for your clients to work with you. By reducing the costs the clients have associated with using your for legal work, you make it harder for your clients to leave you to go to another firm that cannot provide the same efficiencies.

8. Turn the kids loose. The Internet is largely a young person’s game. There is now a generation of people who will have grown up with no experience other than that of having the Internet available. They simply see a different world. Recent law school graduates understand the implications of the Internet and how to live in its environment. Law firms must be increasingly willing to turn over portions of their businesses and the growth and evolution of the firms to the younger generation of lawyers.

9. Gregory Bateson has said you can’t live without an eraser”. Be willing to try things, take a hard look at them and admit your mistakes. Then take an eraser and try again.

10.Wayne Gretzky has said “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” The Nike commercials say “just do it.” In the Internet era, if you have opportunity, you must seize it. Don’t get involved in the bureaucratic situation of constantly planning and never implementing.


  1. “5. Fast prototyping. Get the idea, get it out there, try it.”

    Where have we heard this one lately?
    Web 2.0.Google.Beta.Beta.Beta

    When we lost the fast innovation concept after the ’99 boom, things just weren’t the same. When people are getting their ideas out there and letting others help them revise the concept, that’s the web I love to be around!