Saturday, November 08, 2003
The arguments against it go like this: If I criticize people, post snippets of conversation I find amusing, grouse about my classes, everything I say will be here for anyone to see. If people know who I am, I'll be blamed for what I write.
But it cuts two ways. Anonymity gets no credit, either. It's not that I expect adulation, but maybe—just maybe—I'll act like an adult if I'm doing it in my own name.
Expect to be pleasantly surprised by how silly adults act.
As one who indeed has been pleasantly surprised, I commend you to Heidi's blawg.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Carloyn Elefant writes, "H-E-L-P! In two weeks, I'm scheduled to give a presentation on blogging to an audience of solo and small firm lawyers. For the initial research I've done, seems to me that for most solo and small firm lawyers, the million dollar question about blogging is 'what can it do for me?'" Jerry Lawson is Carolyn's co-presenter.
I'll expand the question before answering, because the benefits of weblogs in general, and blawgs in particular, are so multifaceted. They're not just good for lawyers. They're good for the clients and potential clients who read and benefit from lawyer weblogs. They're good for the profession, which (I know, you're shocked, simply shocked!) is widely (and perhaps justifiably) perceived as many bad things, from inscrutable to parasitic. A great many people have been asking me lately to explain some of these benefits in greater detail, and I have been trying to do so in various ways offline and within my firm. With a reminder that I wrote an article about these kinds of considerations toward the beginning of my life as a blawger, here are some of my more current thoughts on the subject.
Blawgs For Professional Development
One of the biggest benefits I derive from Bag and Baggage, and people are constantly surprised by this, is the way it keeps me informed as a lawyer. I guess it's non-obvious if you're not doing it. By this I mean, for the last two years I've found blogs to be incomparably more effective at keeping me up to speed on developments (societal, business, and legal) touching on my practice than the combination of newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and CLE events which used to serve this function for me on their own. The benefits of having information filtered by people you trust to recognize what you would probably find important if you read it firsthand are enormous. I used to sift through a mishmash of paper and online resources to make sure I knew quickly about developments that might affect my clients or my practice. I still check those things, but now they take a back seat to reading what some knowledgeable blogger already has written up. Another example is the availability of Continuing Legal Education from the actual educators. When legal scholars blog, and when they share what's going on in their courses (see John Palfrey), we can all audit the Ivy League and our other esteemed institutes of higher learning. Pretty neat.
Blawgs As Devoted, Low Cost, Personal PR Experts
Lawyers, clients, potential clients, the media, and so much of the world at large, rely on personal or search engine-generated recommendations for their information. By publishing consistently and currently on your areas of interest, expertise, and practice, you cannot avoid being on the radar. A blog is the equivalent of a 20-person PR staff, singularly devoted to you. Better still, there's no room for the "staffers" to misunderstand or misrepresent your message.
As I told our L.A. office associates recently, my husband is a powerfully effective client developer because he's a brilliant lawyer and a wonderful guy who also happens to love golf and belong to a club with a lot of business people who have ongoing legal needs. His perfect trial track record (no kidding, he's amazing) and occasional high-profile clients have from time to time over his 14 years in practice gotten him written about and/or quoted by journalists, featured on television, and (just once, I think) asked to speak on a subject relevant to his practice. To compare, I'm not one to chase a little white ball around. But in the almost 2 years I've been writing B&B, those kinds of things have happened for me at hyper-speed, in hyper-volume.
In addition to encouraging media and industry connections that might otherwise be impossible to come by, a blawg gives you the chance to demonstrate day after day to colleagues, clients, and potential clients that:
- You know what you're talking about, and
- You're someone they could see themselves working with when/as the need arises.
(There's an equal opportunity to come across as a blithering idiot, but I sure don't see much of that when I cruise through the blawgs of my colleagues over there on the blawgroll.)
Blawgs As Conversations
Yeah, ok, you're sick of hearing about Cluetrain from me. But have you read it? Have you read it lately? Then, have you looked around and noticed how it has come to life in so many ways since its publication?
The world of law is a big and mysterious one to those who are not inside. It's at least slightly less so to those who are. The more people in the legal field who blog, the better our ability to increase the respect and understanding of the law as a whole. The Dean campaign and participatory politics provide a valuable lesson. Despite the democratic form of government we're fortunate enough to enjoy in the U.S., people have been undeniably alienated and kept outside the process of electing a president. Dean and others, through the communications and connections technology now enables, are changing that. There's a parallel when it comes to the legal process. Everyone, inside and outside of the business world, has concern and confusion about how their behavior might fare under the scrutiny of courts and regulators. The more transparency the legal field provides, the more those potentially in need of legal services can come to see the profession and its professionals as Allies, not enemies.
Blawgs For Fun And Party Tricks
Don't discount the value of being able to share thoughts and photos quickly with friends and The World. There's still a lot of novelty to this, and people generally enjoy seeing "their name in lights"—even if it's just the tiny little glow of your blawg. And that glow might not be so tiny little. Your blawg likely will do considerably better than a conventional Web site in terms of inbound links, pagerank, and ensuring the things you've written will be well-placed in relevant search results.
Don't Just Take My Word For It
I got some great comments when I mentioned I was going to speak at the firm about blawging; go have a look. Erik Heels has been conducting and commenting on his real world experiment in changing the way he communicates professionally from the "old way" to the weblog way. Finally, a certain law school professor and administrator for whom I have great respect also suggested that lawyers today "have to live in two worlds, one built on a model of three dimensional information built on the culture of the book and one that is currently being built in cyberspace. The former can seem musty and irrelevant, the latter can seem half-baked. But each is there. In the latter case it is a good idea to be conversing with the architects and builders rather than with the observers. Your blawgs allow that to happen."
Axel H. Horns is a "Patentanwalt (German Patent Attorney), European Patent Attorney as well as European Trade Mark Attorney." He is also a "Member of the Society for Computers and Law." [Via Blawg.org] Axel provides frequent and detailed accounts of what's going on in the European intellectual property community. Did you know the European Patent Office has a new President? Now you do.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
A divided copyright decision today from the 9th Circuit—Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. v. Passport Video, PDF; via Howard Bashman—is a good illustration of the mercurial nature of the fair use doctrine. The opinion considers the extent to which fair use entitled a filmmaker to incorporate copyrighted materials (film clips, photos, and music) into an exhaustive biography of Elvis Presley: The Definitive Elvis. Judge Tallman's majority opinion suggests the outcome was strongly influenced by the applicable standard of review, and the deference the Court of Appeals was required to afford the trial court's preliminary injunction findings: "Although we might view this case as closer than the district court saw it, we hold there was no abuse of discretion in the court's decision to grant Plaintiff's requested relief." Judge Noonan's dissent argues the transformative nature of much of the work and the public interest in a biography of Elvis should have played a greater role in the Court's application of the unpredictable doctrine.
My wonderful assistant Adriane, a Karate sensei and mom of two in her spare time, just told me she wants to start a Karate blog. I thought I'd better mention that quickly, especially since she's throwing me my first ever baby shower, uh, now. It's best not to tick off a woman packing nunchucks.
I've never really been a big baby shower enthusiast, but I have to confess: this morning I was fascinated by the slick stroller tech on display outside Starbucks. This doesn't mean I don't still have Envy envy; it just means it's a strange, paradoxical world.
Walter Hutchens teaches logistics, business and public policy at the Robert H. Smith School of Business in College Park, MD. [Via Ernie Svenson] Walter's specialty is China, and his blog is "generally related to China's developing markets for stocks and other securities, particularly the laws and regulations purporting to govern them." In addition to being a former practicing lawyer and former Senior Communications Specialist for Apple, Walter probably can still recall the meaning of the phrase, "In hoc, Bra."
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Rick Bruner, the gang at Marketing Wonk, and friends, are covering the Ad:Tech conference in New York on the Ad:Tech Blog. Here are B.L. Ochman's notes from the Blogging for Business panel ("[B]logs humanize a company and give the sense that there are real live human beings behind the scenes"—let's hope they give more than just "the sense"), and Rick Bruner's related notes and links. I don't see coverage of John Battelle's session on e-communities, unfortunately, but I'm betting it was good. Rick Bruner does however report a friend's voicemail from the "Spammer's Party," which sounds every bit as nightmarish as you might imagine.
Spectacular news: not only is Howard Bashman now booked with 20 Questions interviewees through June, 2004, his latest volunteer is California's own Justice William W. Bedsworth, author of some of my favorite monthly reading in the form of his Criminal Waste of Space column. Justice Bedsworth is a remarkable man, and is poised to become the world's first jurist, appellate or otherwise—as far as I know, and I am perhaps unhealthily devoted to the topic—to write a regular weblog. (To paraphrase, "He has the technology...")
Rory Perry, who was blogging last week from the Eighth National Court Technology Conference (CTC8), has this exciting bit of news: "[T]he Supreme Court of Utah will soon join West Virginia in providing access to its opinions via RSS." (Link added.)
D.C. Toedt, "general counsel of a software company and a former partner in a big intellectual-property law firm," writes By No Other, Business Law Lessons and Stories. The following is from an interesting post on how a PowerPoint presentation was used to defeat assertions of trade secrecy:
Make an effort to label your confidential documents as "Confidential" or "Proprietary." If you don't, a judge might later use that as an excuse to deny your claim that the documents contain trade secrets — if you didn't treat the documents like trade secrets, why should the court?
(On the other hand, don't go overboard with your confidentiality stamp — the credibility of your secrecy assertions may well be diluted if you unthinkingly label the menu in the company cafeteria as confidential.)
I found D.C. yesterday via Google when running a quick search on IP Memes, a weekly newsletter from TechnoLawyer on intellectual property issues related to emerging technologies. Google told me that Nancy at the Stark County Law Library Blawg had mentioned that IP Memes had mentioned D.C.'s post mentioned above. Ya follow?
Good, because you'll no doubt want to know why I was sifting search results for IP Memes during my busy day yesterday. I've been an IP Memes fan and subscriber for awhile, and was thus was pleased and honored when its publisher, Neil Squillante, asked me to begin serving as one of its co-authors. He did so at the suggestion of the World's Most Connected Man, Buzz Bruggeman, someone I know purely because we both write these weblog thingys that tend too often to be dismissed as insignificant.
Some IP Memes logistics are still being worked out, but one thing I do know is my contributions also will be available for what hopefully will be your reading pleasure here at B&B.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Clue, Line 2
Ernie Svenson: "[A] caveman wouldn't regard a cellphone as a particularly significant tool, unless maybe he could use it to smash rocks."
AP, on the latest California recall election ("Voters to decide on lap dancing ban"): "The [Los Angeles] City Council must now decide whether to rescind [a recently enacted anti-lap dancing ordinance], place a referendum on the next citywide ballot in 2005 or add a question to the Democratic presidential primary in March. They have 20 days to decide what to do." (Emphasis added.)
Sorry so quiet around here, I'm more than a little buried this week. Be sure you haven't missed Donna Wentworth's comprehensive post about the Diebold flap, and the latest installment of Howard Bashman's 20 Questions, featuring the 8th Circuit's Richard S. Arnold: "The aspect of the job I like most is that all I have to do is do right. Every day when I come to work and pick up a file, that is my only job. Let right be done."
Also high on my recommendations list at the moment is Chris Lydon's two-part interview with Stirling Newberry. Regardless of whether it's linguistically accurate to use the term "open source politics," Stirling's discussion on the topic has broad implications beyond just politics. Legal institutions of all stripes should be paying attention to these considerations as well.
Techdirt parses the recent Rulemaking as it dealt with Static Control's rejected exemption request, and the subsequent coverage of the Copyright Office's determinations: "Last week, soon after the Copyright Office made their four tiny exemptions to the DMCA, a story started spreading widely saying that the Copyright Office had said it was okay for companies to create chips that circumvent copy protection for use in printer cartridges. [...]" ("Lexmark DMCA Battle Far From Over")
Several law students from the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis write Sapere aude ("Dare to be Wise"). There's much to like here: the students are apparently writing under their own names, and are both smart and funny. Nice work, Joshua, Jay, Lawren, Kevin, and Kelly!
Monday, November 03, 2003
Senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards will begin blogging today at Larry Lessig's. The Senator's September 26 appearance on the Bill Maher show was particularly good, and is available in transcript form.
DAVID BERNSTEIN AT LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL NOV. 4. The Loyola Law School Chapter of The Federalist Society is proud to present George Mason University School of Law professor David E. Bernstein on November 4, 2003 in Merrifield Hall on the Loyola Law School Campus in Downtown Los Angeles.
Professor Bernstein will be speaking and answering questions about his new book: You Can't Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws (CATO Institute 2003).
(Links added.) The talk is from 12:15 - 1:00 p.m., and Chris has more details over at his blog. Professor Bernstein now blogs at The Volokh Conspiracy.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
A recent example of the growing popularity of blawgs in Germany is Alexander Hartmann's jurabilis. Alexander finished his studies at Wuerzburg law school and is working on his PhD in Berlin, doing a legal clerkship, and specializing in IP/IT. There's a JuraWiki too.
Robert Schoenberger of the Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) is another reporter who apparently read last Tuesday's DMCA Rulemaking and Register's Recommendation before penning his article, "Ruling won't end Lexmark printer flap." He also got Robert Cringely to comment.
Scott Duke Harris, in The Los Angeles Times Magazine ("Ballot Busters"): "If you like politics as usual, suffice it to say vote-trading isn't for you."
Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in the Bag and Baggage weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.