We’re winding down our TechShow-themed LexBlog Q & A interviews; the last one – featuring legal consultant Brett Burney – will go up tomorrow.

But today, we’ve got a very special guest: Dominic Jaar, in-house counsel at Bell Canada and author of the blog Wines and Information Management. Dominic is one of the few Canadian lawyers, and even fewer in-house counsels, who operates a blog.

His schedule in Chicago includes the following panels

:

  • "All in The Family: Collaborating Within Your Own Firm", with Guy Wiggins (3/14, 8:30-9:30 a.m.)
  • "The Mobile Office: Take Your Desktop in Your Pocket", with Brett Burney (3/15, 8:30-9:30 a.m.)

Dominic’s experience in the blogosphere and goals for TechShow can be found after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: Why did you first start blogging?

Dominic Jaar: Funny story: I was in a conference on web 2.0, discussing some tools I was using internally (mainly collaborative tools). The organizer of the conference dared me to start blogging…and I just did it. It was kind of funny, because I had never blogged before. I had written a bunch of articles for magazines and given interviews, but I really enjoyed the feeling of [blogging] about a topic that’s right here, right now.

Many times, I post from my Blackberry on my way to the office in the subway, so I don’t even proofread…after the fact, sometimes people tell me, “What did you mean by that?” I’ll realize, re-reading the post, that I was so much in my head that I totally forgot to give background on what I was writing.

I enjoy the format, and the interaction you get as well. When I was writing articles for magazines, rarely would I receive any comments from anyone, besides people that I knew who said, “I read your article, it was interesting.” Now people can react to the ideas you’re putting forward in your blog, so it’s a bit more interactive. But in Canada blogs are not too big, so I don’t have many comments on my own…I end up receiving more emails than getting comments. I think people are afraid, particularly lawyers, to speak their mind and give their opinion out in the open.

2. Rob La Gatta: So do you not think enough Canadian lawyers are blogging, then? Would you say their numbers aren’t on par with the percentage of American lawyers that are blogging?

Dominic Jaar: I think they’re not on par at all. My fingers – and, if there was an extra one that came out lately that I’m not aware of, perhaps my toes – would be enough to count them out.

[But] there is definitely a learning curve: normally in terms of adopting technologies, I’d say Canada is about three to five years behind the U.S. Right now, [blogging] is still a bit obscure…I think many law firms, and even solo practitioners, haven’t seen the marketing benefit of it.

3. Rob La Gatta:

Do you expect, both in America and in Canada, more in-house counsels to start blogging in the near future?

Dominic Jaar: Quite frankly, I don’t. And I have to say that I’m not really blogging as an in-house counsel; I’m more blogging as an individual. So perhaps if there’s another individual who is interested in technologies and collaborative tools, they might start blogging…and if they happen to be in-house, that’s fine.

But I doubt anyone would do a professional blog as an in-house. There are too many ethical rules and issues you might run into, in terms of divulging certain type of information, etc. And I suspect the communication department in the company you’re working for would really be looking closely at everything you’re writing, [which] would affect the interest in just saying what you think.

I know, for example, Mike Dillon in the U.S. does [a blog]; but he works in a particular company where [blogging] is totally in their field (in fact, Sun is even encouraging and hosting their employees’ blogs). But I haven’t heard about many other companies that would do similar things. On the contrary: what I’ve seen is many corporations getting blogging policies that are really strict on what can and can’t be said, and I think it definitely affects the positive side of blogging when you’re censored in some sort of way.

4. Rob La Gatta: Switching the focus over to TechShow: I see that one of your panels is on collaboration within law firms. Can you give an example of how this type of collaboration is beneficial?

Dominic Jaar: At Bell Canada, we’re working with many law firms, and I find that we are reinventing the wheel over and over again. The same documents are exchanged between parties many times, and I’m trying to force our outside counsel to post their documents on collaborative tools, instead of sending an e-mail with an attached document (and then having me review it and track change, ending up with multiple versions).

If we had collaborative tools, the outside counsel could just post the document and let me know it’s there, and we could either interact simultaneously or whenever we had time, and only have one version of it. 

5. Rob La Gatta: Personally, what do you hope to gain from attending the ABA TechShow?

Dominic Jaar:

TechShow is sort of one big family, where you have a bunch of like-minded people, so it’s really the place to exchange information and learn. Even as a speaker, I realize that often people who are attending know some things that you don’t know, and by having a discussion we can all learn from the experience. It’s definitely a matter of meeting people that share the same interests and have a bunch of information that is beneficial to you.

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