Who’s Minding the Store?

Red Shoes are Better than Bacon occasionally engages in productive activity, and we’re proud to share with you our latest achievement.  You don’t have to be a lawyer to love Effectively Staffing Your Law Firm, 2nd Edition.

Let’s look at the details:

Good law office staff is harder to find (and keep) than clients (and sometimes spouses). Not a mere receptionist, typist, and filing clerk, good support staff can be the lawyer’s alter ego, right arm, custodian, den mother, rabbi, and guardian angel. Could you manage if your staff didn’t show up tomorrow morning?

The average solo or small firm lawyer may spend more waking hours each day with staff than with a spouse or significant other. And in some cases, even years longer. They will devote all kinds of time and money searching for that significant other, courting the person, learning how to live with that person, being trained by that person—but when it comes to staff, an “Oh, that one will do” more frequently than not seems to be the way it is all approached.


Will El Hermano Mayor de Leon be Watching You?

Writing in Fast Company, Austin Carr made more than a few scratch their heads in wonder this evening:

Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) announced today that it is rolling out its iris scanning technology to create what it calls "the most secure city in the world." In a partnership with Leon — one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of more than a million — GRI will fill the city with eye-scanners.

Houston-based lawyer Ignacio Pinto-Leon, who is admitted to practice in Mexico as well as New York, smells an urban legend in the making:

  • Leon is a municipality in the state of Guanajuato. I would think the city does not have a budget for the price tag of the technology. The state executive maybe; the federal government for sure. But not a city.
  • City jails house only drunks and prostitutes for up to 36 hours for each infraction.
  • The state and federal government run the real jails. So, the first take of irises on inmates would give a very poor—but probably cheerful—sample.
  • Put  fancy little cameras in public places in Mexico, and most likely they would get stolen quickly. I’m not bashing my countrymen; just guessing. 
  • So, it would flag the "bad guys." Well, the bad guys in Mexico are really bad guys. They have really big guns—we don’t sell guns in Mexico except through the Mexican Secretary of Defense, but have a neighbor nearby who sells everything from grenades and whatnots at good prices. And sometimes the bad guys attack in groups of forty or more. 
  • Kidnappers would routinely include ripping the eyeballs to avoid detection.
  • Is the government going to share the information with stores in the case of shoplifters? Really? Entrepreneurs distrust the government; why would they open their computers to them?
  • The only two sources with information are: the company’s webpage, and a press release published in an online newspaper. The press release is also by the same company and a local partner.
  • No AP, REUTERS, NOTIMEX or any other agency note. Nada.

Having said that, Pinto-Leon commented:

Mexico is Mexico. Few things would surprise me regarding my beloved country. We say that compared to Mexico, Kafka was a costumbrist (Mexico is essentially Kafkian by nature). I don’t know if they have the technology to try it on such a wide population. My guess is that the note is inaccurate. It would be interesting to read more about it. Constitutionally speaking, there could be some freedom of transit and freedom of privacy issues too. 


Are You LegallyMinded?

They’re as plain as the Big Chief tablets generations of school kids learned to write on. They require no terribly sophisticated tools to set up and keep running. Gaining entry usually only means having a working e-mail address, an Internet connection, and the ability to send e-mail. Stashing away an important message is as easy as archiving any other piece of e-mail. Mailing lists, the Model T of electronic discussion, offer up no fancy bells, whistles and alluring features. They’ve duked it out with fancy web forums, and they won.

Last summer, I was invited to be among an august group of private beta testers for a brand spanking new social  networking project for the legal profession. Oddly enough, while I was asked to keep the details of the project "under wraps" without  being asked to execute any kind of non-disclosure agreement, at the same time I was invited to promote the site as something new for  the profession. Just how quiet, secret testing was supposed to take  place in a parallel space with promotion is beyond me. (Contact me  directly if you’re legally minded.)

Promising cutting-edge social networking for the legal community, this project offered up a carnival of blogs, discussion groups, profiles, wikis, the ability to search out other members on  a people map, and a host of articles on practice management,  careers, education, work, life and community. The only things missing were the sounds of an organ-grinder and a ringmaster promising a "really big show."

The exciting new product, which purportedly is intended  to ultimately replace plain ol’ mailing lists, was definitely not as thrilling as watching 1950’s episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show on HD TV. What went wrong? Was the new product a day late and a dime short? Or was it trying to offer each of its potential users everything under the sun, even if it in a watered-down version? As far as the concept of electronic discussion groups, it just plain missed the mark. There are times when the plain and simple, tried-and-true, formats remain the superior product. Mailing lists are going to be around for a long, long time.

That was my September Mailing List Review column for Internet Law Researcher, where I’ve served as a contributing editor for the eleven years last past.

The secret social networking project for the legal profession, created by the American Bar Association is no longer a secret. LegallyMinded has thrown open its doors to the public—and anyone can join in. Yes, you’ve got that right. It’s not limited to ABA members or lawyers. Anyone from your first-born child to Osama bin Laden, from a client right down to the local dogcatcher and Sarah Palin can join right in. While the site has been referred to by some as LegallyBlonde, I’m just not going to comment. It wouldn’t be the proper thing to do. Wouldn’t be prudent. Well, for the the time being. Like they say, the jury’s still out.

If you can read this blog, you’re invited to mosey on over to LegallyMinded. Put up your feet, lean back and stay a while.


No Suspicion Necessary

Your essential stuff – your laptop, thumb drive, cell phone, iPod, and even books and reading material – just got a little less sacred whenever you cross the border into or out of the U.S. And the government can keep your stuff for as long as it wants.

Read the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Policy Regarding Border Search of Information here.

It’s more than just chilling. It’s frightening.


This is Your Brain on Drugs

Fried_egg,_sunny_side_up You remember the threats (or were those promises?) about how drugs would make you stupid? 36 years ago, we laughed at the ridiculousness of Reefer Madness. And we chortle today at the failed fried egg campaign of two decades back.

And even greater danger lurks, and it’s Google, according to Nicholas Carr’s piece in Atlantic Monthly. Credit here has to go to lawyer, writer, code monkey, and Nebraskan Richard Dooling for pointing it out in his blog. How many times a day do you access Google instead of using your brain?

If you ask me, and I know you didn’t, but this is my blog, the real danger lies in Wikipedia. Just think about how many idiots pass themselves off as savants just because they rely upon its entries?


Why We Really Blog

It’s not really about fame and glory – or even the chance to market ourselves. It’s not about the money we earn from those Google ads. Or even warming up before embarking upon some productive activity or preventing it from occurring the first place.

We blog because it’s a good for us.

It’s a brain thing, and it’s cheap therapy, says Scientific American.

Thanks to Two Weeks Notice for turning us on to why we blog.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Old Lawyers Really Like Us

In his Winter 2008 Making Technology Work for You column in Experience magazine, published by the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division, California lawyer Jeff Allen (who also is editor-in-chief of GP|Solo Technology & Practice Guide and Technology eReport) has some good things to say about Staring at Strangers. Including SAS among the interesting blogs he recommends to readers, he writes:

Staring at Strangers. A blog written by two, often politically incorrect, attorneys who comment on whatever strikes their fancy.

It’s too bad that Experience magazine isn’t accessible to anyone online. The Senior Lawyers keep those issues locked up to those who aren’t members of the club. Heck, I’m not even a member of their club.