By Nerino Petro at 2 October, 2013, 10:11 am
My friend Ross Kodner passed away at the much too young age of 52 on July 29, 2013. I had planned on posting a memorial to him much earlier but the Milwaukee Bar Association asked if I would pen a memorial for Ross to appear in their October 1, 2013 newsletter. I didn't think it was appropriate to post my memorial here before the MBA published so I held off until today.
Ross Kodner, Wisconsin lawyer and legal technology evangelist, passed away on July 29, 2013, just 2 days after his 52nd birthday. Ross almost single-handedly put legal technology on the map for lawyers, not only in Wisconsin but throughout the United States and many other parts of the world. Ross was one of the finest presenters I knew and could entertain and educate an audience like few others.
I first met Ross more than a decade ago, and over the years, he was a colleague, mentor, and most importantly, my friend. Ross was relentless at promoting the benefits of legal technology for lawyers and their staff, and had a personality as grand his ideas. It seemed that Ross never stood still, and each time I spoke or exchanged e-mails with him, he was in a new city or state.
Ross was a huge proponent of reducing the amount of paper that lawyers handled, and so created his Paper LESS™ office concept. Ross was a pioneer in this and other practice management tools, and their benefits for lawyers. But Ross will probably be best remembered for one of his “60” tips, tricks, gadgets, or website presentations.
If you were lucky enough to attend one of these sessions, you could count on several things: (1)there were always more tips than 60, (2) there was never enough time to get through all of them, and (3) you could always count on seeing at least one thing that made you laugh. As in all of his presentations, Ross could convey more information in a single PowerPoint slide than anyone else. Anyone who attended one of his presentations understands the irony of Ross telling an audience to “keep your PowerPoint slides simple,” as he moved through slides that were packed with images and text from corner to corner.
Ross loved what he did and did not hesitate to help lawyers in need, especially after some of our country’s worst disasters. Ross was instrumental in assisting the New York State Bar Association’s creation of its Legal TechAid website after September 11, 2001; and then, a short time later, helping lawyers impacted by Hurricane Katrina. But disasters were not the only occasions on which Ross reached out to the legal technology community: for years Ross and Joanna Forshee hosted the Annual Consultants & Technologists Dinner during the ABA TECHSHOW. Ross’ good friend Dale Tincher of Consultweb.com has posted images from a number of these dinners on his website at http://bit.ly/15AiXiS. Ross was in his element at these dinners and was a gracious host. While the dinners were a great time, Ross also used them as an opportunity to help raise money for charities. These events were just more proof that even in his social life, Ross liked to multitask.
I spoke to Ross just before he passed away, and he was his usual ebullient self. Like others with whom I have spoken, I am still trying to accept a world without Ross in it. After his passing and the outpouring of sympathy and kind words about personal experiences, we truly begin to realize how many lives Ross touched and influenced. Others have written beautiful remembrances of him, including his friends Craig Ball, Robert Ambrogi, and Jim Calloway. I urge you to read them at http://bit.ly/16TEKzc, http://bit.ly/16TEYWR, and http://bit.ly/16TF0yb
Ross was a husband, father, business partner, and visionary. He leaves behind him a legacy that will endure far into the future. The legal community will miss his knowledge, wit, and contributions. For myself, I miss my friend