Volume 19, Number 4
The Daily Internet
By Edward Poll
There is much to learn from the Internet...and much the Internet can do to complement daily life. Just today, for example, I realized that I would not be in town for our local municipal elections and could no longer vote by mail. But finding the right phone number for voting information in a large city like L.A. is like finding a needle in a haystack. For once, I took my own advice, went to the Internet, and searched under "County of Los Angeles." In less than a minute, I had the right number, made the call, and arranged an absentee ballot. Now my vote can count.
Another website new to me is www.netflix.com, which claims to have a movie selection ten times larger than the biggest video store. After opening an account, you submit a list (as long as you want) of films; netflix sends the movies or DVDs, to a maximum of three, which you can keep as long as you want. When you're done, send them back in the pre-paid mailer. Your next choice is then automatically sent.
Still another new toy I've found belongs to the Los Angeles Public Library, which is one of the largest in the world. A few years ago, the building in which I had spent so much time doing term papers was nearly destroyed by fire. Its replacement is a marvelous structure, and one of its important new features is an online catalog of the entire collection, www.lapl.org. I can search, find what I need, and even have it transferred to my neighborhood branch. Although you may be unlikely to use the Los Angeles Public Library, do check your town's online library resources-you could discover a whole new world.
How do law libraries match up? We know major universities have marvelous sites, but what about local law libraries, where you actually get the volume(s) you need? I found my local law library, maintained by the County of Los Angeles, online, searched my favorite personal topic, cycling, and found a new fact-someone actually wrote a book about U.S. bicycling laws-a compilation of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances.
I also use the Internet for researching and receiving magazines, books, and catalogs, at www.e-zines.com. Hundreds, if not thousands, of resources are available, with searchable listings by topic that give you the publications and resources to consult for further information.
Exploring Returns on Investment
www.profound.net/main/roi_recruiting_calculator.xls A simple spreadsheet demonstrates clients' ROI on the fees charged by this employment recruiter.
www.mediapps.com/web/us.nsf/$$ftp/ROI/$file/ROI.xls Demonstrates return son technology investments.
www.dcglu.com/roi.html A firm examines payback period, cash flow improvements, and profitability. Do you buy technology with this type of analysis in mind?
These sites suggest how lawyers might quantify our services to demonstrate returns on investments. Do your services help clients reduce waste, improve consistency, solve equipment or staffing challenges, create capacity, reduce cycle times, or improve reliability ? If so, consider incorporating an ROI analysis into your client presentation.
Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is a certified management consultant and coach whose latest book is Attorney & Law Firm Guide to the Business of Law: Planning & Operating for Survival & Growth, 2nd edition (ABA 2001). He can be reached at email@example.com.