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Friday, July 25, 2003

Lawyers, Blogs, Money, And Stone Cold

This week's issue of the ABA Journal eReport includes an article, "Bemused About Blogging," that encourages a cautious and open-eyed approach to legal weblogging. This is something I always try to foster as well. However, to the extent the article suggests a blogging lawyer must dissimulate and dissemble to avoid alienating clients, it perpetuates insular thinking and ignores the realities of the modern business world, which thankfully is populated by individuals with a broad range of interests and concerns.

Before I get into that, one thing needs to be clarified up front since the writer Stephanie Ward apparently had some trouble distinguishing between comments I was making and comments I told her others had made on similar topics. Specifically, in response to her question about writing about things beyond just the law, I told Stephanie that Eugene Volokh had addressed this in his recent interview with Chris Lydon and she should go take a listen. I also told her I appreciated Eugene's answer so much I had quoted him on B&B, and proceeded to read her the interview passage in question. The quotes and attribution somehow got left out of her piece, but one of the benefits of having a weblog is the ability to supply such things where, as here, they have been neglected or cut.

As far as the overall message of the piece, everyone is entitled to an opinion about what might constitute "acid-rainmaking," a great turn of phrase supplied by Perkins Coie Labor and Employment partner Michael Reynvaan. Not so great in my view is Mr. Reynvaan's suggestion that while writing about certain hobbies—"bridge, marathon training, sailing"—might form a common bond with clients, writing about others—"professional wrestling or NASCAR"—could be perceived as "unlawyerly." Maybe it's just me, but the adjectives such an approach brings to mind are "elitist," "narrow-minded," "backward," and "out of touch." While I'm not personally into NASCAR—IRL is more my thing—or professional wrestling, if I were, I assume from time to time they'd come up here. Then, to the extent any of the millions of people who contribute to the huge popularity of these pursuits—who are bound to include clients, potential clients, and colleagues—should stumble on a related Bag and Baggage post, it might just bring a smile to their face.

If you want an automaton as a lawyer, someone like me may not be your best bet. If, on the other hand, you would prefer your legal representatives to think, breathe, and have some grasp on the kinds of cultural and policy issues that so frequently affect the development of the law and the outcome of judicial decisions, that might be another story. By the way, I think the same thing goes for Howard Bashman, who inaccurately is described in the article as someone who "does not discuss personal issues on his blog." Anyone passingly familiar with How Appealing recognizes that Howard's passions and personality, and the way they come through in his writing, are an enormous part of what makes his weblog exceptional.

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