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David Bilinsky of Thoughtful Legal Management [LexBlog Q & A]

March 5, 2008

As the ABA TechShow draws nearer, you’ll start to notice certain LexBlog Q & As that bear the TechShow’s badge (above) in place of our guest’s photo. This is your indicator that the interview you’re about to read is with a legal professional scheduled to present at TechShow, and that at least a portion of our conversation is focused on the event.

Our first guest is David Bilinsky, Practice Management Advisor and staff lawyer for the Law Society of British Columbia and author of the blog Thoughtful Legal Management. Dave will be speaking on two panels at TechShow:

  • “Records Management Technology: It’s A Small World After All”, with Jesse Wilkins (3/13, 4:15-5:15 p.m.)
  • “Drafting Bills Your Clients Will Rush To Pay”, with Steve Best (3/14, 1-2 p.m.)

Find out more about Dave’s blog and his goals for TechShow after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: Your background includes a lot of work for traditional print publications. When you started blogging, did you find adjusting your writing style for the web to be a challenge?

Dave Bilinsky: Blogging is much more direct than writing for a print publication. With a blog, you feel like you are speaking directly to someone and holding your breath anticipating a reply (by way of a comment or cross-blog post). This possibility of interaction and dialogue is very important to me, and is something that I aim at every time I do a post.

When you write for a print publication, it is weeks before you see the article in print, and at that point your mind has moved on to other things. I think print is still very important to us, but blogging is an application of Marshall McLuhan’s ‘global village’ concept: allowing minds from thousands of miles apart to connect globally [in a way] that was previous only possible in face-to-face conversations. The possibility that a blog post can trigger multiple points of view that are then shared and which are thought-triggering themselves in real-time is absolutely fascinating.

2. Rob La Gatta: The approach you take of starting each blog post with a song quote is interesting (and something I’ve never seen anywhere else). Why did you do this, and where did the idea come from?

Dave Bilinsky: Music has always been very important to me. In 1994 when I volunteered to do my first article for the Canadian Bar Association on lawyer-client communication, I was thinking about what I wanted to say, and lyrics from Reba McEntire just sprang into my head:

“Well there’s no problem gettin’ to me

Baby you can dial direct

I got call forwarding and call waiting

You can even call collect

So tell me why, haven’t I heard from you?”

I wrote this first column starting off with Reba’s lyrics, and it just ‘clicked’ for me (the lyrics were actually written by S. Knox and T.W. Hale). I called it my lyrical headnote…it was a way to highlight what I was going to say in the column in a way that made the reader think and made me think; I had to make sure that the lyrics fit the article.

Hundreds of articles later, it has become a trademark of sorts for me. Now, I wouldn’t consider writing a column or a blog post without the lyrical headnote. And I find that I get great feedback and encouragement from readers about the lyrics.

3. Rob La Gatta: One of your panels at TechShow is on records management. Can you explain exactly what this is in a legal context, and why it warrants its own panel?

Dave Bilinsky: With the advent of the paper-less office and electronic discovery, electronic records management is increasing in importance. As the Practice Management Advisor for the Law Society of British Columbia, I was repeatedly being asked, “Can’t we just image our files and store them electronically?” I started thinking about that, and realized that it wasn’t just this simple; there are a host of issues surrounding the process of creating, searching, storing, archiving and destroying electronic records in a law office.

Zubulake and similar cases raised issues around the preservation of electronic evidence. The Sedona Conference has been instrumental in being a thought-leader in the whole area of electronic discovery. I took those ideas and asked the question, “What would happen if a law firm was the subject of a lawsuit that involved electronic evidence?” That one question for me opened up the whole issue of electronic records management by a law firm.

4. Rob La Gatta: Are there any panels or panelists that you are particularly looking forward to seeing, or that you would recommend to other attendees?

Dave Bilinsky: That is a hard question, since there are so many great thinkers and presenters. I am going to do something different [this year], and that is highlight the new speakers:

  • Nils Jensen is a Crown Prosecutor in British Columbia (equivalent to a District Attorney but without the big budget) who has been doing great things in bringing technology to court on a shoestring as well as teaching law students how to do this.
  • Dominic Jaar is an in-house lawyer with Bell Canada who is at the forefront of on-line collaboration (he does a blog on wine and technology) as well as the Chair of LegalIT, a legal technology conference in Quebec sponsored in part by the University of Montreal.
  • Britt Knuttgen is doing a couple of great sessions on managing e-mail and on voice recognition.
  • Of course, fellow blogger Kevin O’Keefe is a new TechShow speaker this year, and after his great presentation at The Pacific Legal Technology Conference in October, I know he will be a big hit.
  • And my co-speaker, Steve Best is going to be fabulous on our session on “Drafting Bills Your Clients will Rush to Pay.”

5. Rob La Gatta: Ultimately, what do you hope to come away from the ABA TechShow with: knowledge? Professional contacts? Something else?

Dave Bilinsky: TechShow for me is all about swimming in a nutrient-rich sea. There is no better environment for being exposed to new ideas, new technologies, new contacts and new ways to think outside of the box when it comes to legal technology.

Yes, you do come home with professional contacts and an incredible amount of knowledge. You can laugh at “60 Sites in 60 Minutes” and write notes as fast as you can in “60 Tips in 60 Minutes.” But it is more than that.

[TechShow] is all about finding one place where you are in a group of like-minded individuals who are at the forefront of the envelope, who are only too willing to share and discuss ideas and things that work. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:

Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.

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