I was recently interviewed about my elevator pitch, blogging, and the future of legal tech for the ROSS Intelligence blog by Kathleen Killin (#LegalTechLives with Ron Friedmann, Consultant at Fireman & Company + Principal of Prism Law). I reproduce it here.
#LegalTechLives with Ron Friedmann, Consultant at Fireman & Company + Principal of Prism Law
For this edition of #LegalTechLives, I spoke with Ron Friedmann, who has a wide range of experience and expertise in law practice management, knowledge management, legal marketing, and technology for lawyers. Ron advises law firms and legal departments on strategic uses of technology. He has held positions as senior advisor at Cenza Technologies, Senior Vice President (Marketing & Consulting) at Integreon, CIO at Mintz Levin, and President/Owner of Prism Legal Consulting. Currently, Friedmann is a consultant at Fireman & Company and is the principal of a highly successful LegalTech blog that was recently honored in the November 2016 ABA Journal list, as a Top 100 BLAWG. We’re fortunate to call Ron a friend of ROSS!
Kathleen Killin: If we met in an elevator, what would be your pitch to introduce yourself to me?
Ron: It’s always best to know the audience for a pitch. For a law firm partner, my pitch is that I can help you practice law more efficiently. That will help you win new clients and keep clients. Plus, as your firm aligns compensation to real profit metrics, it will ensure you continue to do well personally. For an in-house lawyer, my pitch is that I can help you do more with less. By practicing more efficiently, you will have more success with your internal clients.
I’d love to hear more about your blog. How did you get into blogging and what post are you most proud of/is your favorite?
Around 2002 I built a professional / consulting website. I wanted to keep it current so I would have a page for news and periodically updated it manually. Not long after that, I learned about web logs, now blogs. I realized that was a much more elegant approach to what I was doing. So I started blogging.
Asking about my favorite post is a bit like asking a parent about a favorite child. Kidding aside, I have written 1400+ posts, about 100 per year for almost 14 years. That’s too many to remember. So I’ll answer the question for posts I wrote in 2016. My favorite is The Future of Legal Talent — Not Lawyers? I like it because it makes clear my view that the legal market must move beyond the caste system and treat allied professionals on an equal footing. And by the way, that post had about 5x as many views on LinkedIn as any other of my LinkedIn posts.
I recently wrote an article on the 7 cardinal rules for legal blogging. What is some advice you have on how to engage readers and keep a successful blog?
I established my blog early, when it was easier because fewer were blogging. But I think some rules have not changed.
My most important rule is to write something thoughtful or provocative. So, for example, if I cover important news, it’s not enough to just summarize it. I will say something in my own voice about what that news means, why I question it, or what questions remain open.
For example, in my Future of Legal Talent post, I reported on a Deloitte study, agreed with it in part, but disagreed with one of its fundamental conclusions and explained why.
A related rule is to know your audience. I write primarily for lawyers and other professionals in the large law firm / corporate legal market. From consulting and professional activity, I know that market well. I don’t try to cover the consumer law market (though I do maintain peripheral vision on it and occasionally weave it into posts).
The next question is something that I’ve struggled with at times, how do you cure writer’s block?
For me, the cure is move on. I don’t have to deliver blog posts on deadline. While I like to post regularly, sometimes I post twice a week and sometimes only twice a month. Sometimes I struggle with a post. I often get ideas for posts when I read mainstream media while on an exercise machine. I start formulating the idea in my head and it seems great.
But when I’m back in the office and put hands to keyboard, I struggle to tease out something coherent. If I put it down for a while, I will sometime realize the cure. But if I can’t cure the problem, I will drop the topic. When that happens, I don’t really view it a writer’s block; rather, I I interpret it more that my initial idea was not as good as it first seemed.
What do you think 2017 holds for the future of LegalTech?
A continuation of the trends we have seen. I don’t mean that glibly. I mean that I do not believe in major discontinuity or disruption in the legal market. If the 2008–10 economic crisis did not fundamentally change large law firm practice, and it did not, I am not sure what will.
To be sure, we will see more firms evaluate and adopt AI, upgrade document management, deploy a new generation of search tools, and build modern Intranets. But that will simply continue the trends already in place. I would love to be proven wrong on this of course.
If you had the day all to yourself, how would you spend it?
If the weather were nice, I would take a long bike ride. The great thing about the DC area is easy access to the outdoors. In a 45 minutes drive, I can get to fabulous biking country around Middleburg, VA. If the weather were not, read a novel.
What are the top three songs on your playlist?
Isn’t this another one like asking about favorite children? I’m not very musically minded. A lot of my tastes were formed in the 1970s or 1980s. Songs are way too hard but groups: Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Pretenders, and Dire Straights. There are ties in there so I name 4.
KK: Ron — thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate your insight into blogging and curing writer’s block. I’ve had a few articles on the back burner that I keep pushing aside but my stubbornness gets the best of me to not give up on them completely. I’m going to try your strategy of letting them go and starting afresh. Looking forward to continuing to follow your writing, especially as an inspiration to us new bloggers!