I attended the Indiana State Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference, held on June 5-7 at the French Lick Springs Resort in French Lick, Indiana, (aka, the hometown of Larry Bird or as we call him in Indiana, “Larry Legend”). The conference is the second largest of its kind in the U.S. and regularly draws attendees and speakers from throughout the U.S.
At this year’s SSF Conference, Ted Waggoner, author of the popular blog, Lawyers with Troubles, and I made a joint presentation on “The Ethics of Using Legal Assistants.” As you may know from past blog pieces on using legal assistants, I am a big fan of attorneys utilizing legal assistants (e.g., paralegals) to the maximum extent possible. In fact, as I have written before, I really do believe that increased use of legal assistants is the key to increased profitability in law firms.
One of the national speakers at the SSF Conference was Ben Schorr. Ben is an international IT consultant and author of the book “The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2007” published by the ABA. Ben spoke to the legal assistants attending the conference about, what else, getting the maximum benefit out of using Microsoft Word. A part of his presentation was on how to prevent your Word documents from being metadata mined. As you know, metadata mining has been at the forefront of the news lately over revelations that the NSA has been metadata mining our phone records.
Ben gave an illustration of the pitfalls to lawyers when their documents are metadata mined. He told of a client who was concerned over high legal bills from a firm. In particular, they were concerned about the 5 hours a partner billed to prepare a document. Data mining done showed that the partner actually spent 20 only minutes in total editing the document while an associates spent 1 hour working on the document. Not only that, but through metadata mining they traced the document back to another firm that the associate used to work for. Continue reading