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Saturday, November 02, 2002

Thesis 95

"We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting." [The Cluetrain Manifesto]

Friday, November 01, 2002

Nice Touches

If you ever find yourself orchestrating a big law firm merger: (1) Do have all hands meetings with the two firms' charismatic managing partners (note to self: remind Kurt when it's time for new head shots that the over-the-shoulder jacket look might present -- how to put this delicately -- an undue hazard to the lactose intolerant), and include film clips like Bill Murray's exuberant "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!" and John Belushi's uncompromising "LET'S DO IT!" (2) Do emphasize the importance of things like mutual respect and integrity. (3) Do endow a new Boalt Hall scholarship that will give a full ride to disadvantaged students in the name of Crosby luminary and longtime trial ad instructor Ed Heafey. These are just isolated examples of the many things being done right here. Bet you're not surprised I'm tickled to see it.

Wired On The News

Go read Kendra Mayfield's article in Wired News about the interesting Halloween Howard Bashman had. "It does show a new method of feedback, and more feedback is better than less." Thanks too to Howard for the link to Lewis & Clark Law School's Professor Jack Bogdanski who writes Jack Bog's Blog, directs the tax law program, and pays attention to the really groundbreaking decisions in his jurisdiction (no permalink I'm afraid, but see his 11/01/02 post). Also, I'd like to introduce you to my cool nephew Adam (hey, these things go both ways) and his blog In re. Adam's a IL at the Washburn University School of Law and is taking full advantage of the school's ubiquitous WiFi to share his thoughts with the world. No small distinction, he's also the Blawg Ring's 50th member.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Good Intentions Never Good Enough

Here are two articles about the Reed Smith/Crosby merger, one from The East Bay Business Times (according to which I now have a "posse," which is great because let's face it, who hasn't always wanted one?), and one from the Philadelphia Business Journal. [update] More merger stories, in The Oakland Tribune, The San Mateo County Times and The title of this post (borrowed from a classic Motels tune and album) refers to the fact I briefly considered making a WeatherPixie collage commemorating all the various offices of the new firm. However, it quickly became clear I have far too little time and there are far too many locations. I'm hoping you can muddle through with London. --Later: Well, I just couldn't resist running the Googlisms for the firms. Here's Crosby Heafey and Reed Smith (which seems to have some brand overlap with Paul Reed Smith Guitars -- either that or the firm is really into rock-n-roll). The WeatherPixie

Maybe My Surprise Meter Needs Adjustment?

I was pleased, of course, to learn that Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith corrected an opinion based on an astute catch by appellate practitioner and turbocharged blawger Howard Bashman. But surprised? Naah, I guess I just assume everyone involved in appellate jurisprudence reads Howard's blog at least as assiduously as I do. If they don't, they should... ;-) --Footnote to post about footnote: Isn't this precisely how the Web is supposed to work? "Blogs: We Bring Cluetrain To Life."

It's Official

Crosby Heafey and Reed Smith have agreed to tie the knot. Come January 1, with close to 1,000 lawyers we will be Pretty Durn Big Law. More about new colleagues across the country and The Pond is here.

"I wish I'd thought of dressing as a blue screen of death."


Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Taking That "To Go" (fully hyperlinked and searchable, too)

For the first time ever in a case pending before the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (L.A., Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo), a cd-rom version of the briefs, record and authorities on appeal was filed with the Court. This occurred in Summit Industries Of Nevada, Inc. v. Los Angeles Community Development Bank, through the efforts of friend and appellant's co-counsel Robin Meadow. Robin's firm has more. (How's this for a bit of bloggal serendipity? Robin also is a fan of ActiveWords and knows Buzz.)

Risky Business

Attorney Michael Rossi's regular column for IRMI (the International Risk Management Institute) "focuses on insurance issues associated with risks inherent in businesses’ increasing reliance on technology." You can access current and back issues here. In (perhaps completely un-) related developments (your call), look for "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde" in theaters next summer! [via The Daily Journal] Blondie

Plastic Pumpkin

Sounds like a band, doesn't it? ("Also appearing with the Soft Plastic Worms.") Or a blog. But actually, it's a reason to egg my place come Halloween. Do it, and I'll sic this guy on ya.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Back Linking, Forward Looking

Weblogs and judicial decisions seem fairly unrelated. The first are likely to discuss someone's pet, while the second are likely to discuss lap dancing. Or is it vice versa? I always forget. But there are some interesting dynamics in the world of weblogs that may ultimately impact how cases and statutes are published and used. Weblogs and the legal field both rely on a system of citation and precedent, and what webloggers are doing today, legal researchers may be doing tomorrow. Consider David Gallagher's article in the November edition of MIT's Technology Review: The Web's Missing Links: A new twist on the hyperlink makes wandering the Web twice as interesting. (You can access the start of the article at that link for free and/or without being a subscriber; Mena Trott says it may move from premium to free soon. Thanks to Kevin Heller for the link to the full article on David Gallagher's page.) Gallagher looks at how bloggers use referral logs and features like Movable Type's TrackBack, and writes,
Webloggers, or “bloggers,” say recent experiments with backlinking could benefit all kinds of online publishing. Instead of pointing readers only to sources for the item they have just read, backlinks also point to newer material that item inspired, making it easy to follow a path through the Web’s marketplace of ideas. And because they can be updated automatically to reflect new incoming links, backlinks turn static Web pages into active hubs of related information.
If you ever have done legal research, this should be sounding familiar. In the legal realm, we use citation services like Shepard's and KeyCite to track a case -- and particular reasoning within cases -- forward and backward, as other lawmakers pick up the discussion and develop the law. But there are differences between legal citators and weblog backlink systems. As West says of KeyCite, "Lawyer-editors put all cases and other information through a rigorous editorial analysis before the material can be added...," while weblog-related systems aggregate citations algorithmically, based on links. Legal citation services also are priced to reflect their dedication to accuracy. But legal citation services aren't always accurate. They miss things. Shepard's and KeyCite reports on a given case can yield different results. Imagine the improvements in accuracy, however, when "rigorous editorial analysis" takes a hit of some of the automated tracing and tracking features being developed in the weblog arena. Consider:
  • Courts and legislatures agree on standards for publishing and linking to opinions and statutes electronically, including a means of linking to distinct portions of an opinion or statute;
  • Legal citation services capture all the discussion-specific links in subsequent primary legal sources, as well as other sources using the standards, and exercise editorial discretion to weed out what they deem unimportant or extraneous;
  • Legal researchers have the option of performing their own searches, independent of citation services, that yield all the citing results (e.g., by typing "link:" and the appropriate URL into Google). Of course, they run the risk of getting "spammed" in the process, and otherwise pulling up material they may not want or need. (See When The Spam Hits The Blogs.)
  • In this scenario, legal citators improve accuracy and stay in business because their editorial judgment continues to have value. Legal research nevertheless becomes more accessible and less costly. This probably won't happen any time soon, but it's not difficult to see how techniques being tested in the weblog arena now may shape the way research is done and laws are made down the road.

    Sunday, October 27, 2002

    Just Say Mario

    Designed to reduce the anxiety of children during medical procedures, the PediSedate headset plays music or sounds from a Nintendo Game Boy while monitoring respiratory function and distributing nitrous oxide. The headset is now undergoing clinical trials.
    [via Popular Science]

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