Welcome to our take on the blawgosphere in this Blawg Review #112 of the review of blawgs. It has been a fun week of reading blogs and interesting posts. Many thanks to the Blawg Review editors for giving us this opportunity to write this week’s Blawg Review. It is impossible to cover all of the great blogs and posts out there, so consider this a small slice of last week’s posts (and I now realize we have a lot of great blogs to add to BlawgSearch.com this week).
Law and Economics
The University of Chicago team of Economics Noble Prize Winner Gary Becker and US 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner Judge publish the great Becker-Posner Blog. This is one I have read every week since it came out. I often disagree, but I love it.
This week, Gary Becker did a post about Women’s earning power in the economy. It is an interesting verbal analysis. He focused a bit on the increasing education and earning power of woman, but was not sure that at the highest income levels they would be competitive with men because many women take time off to raise young children. As Professor Becker stated… “even if the average hourly earnings of women reached parity or surpassed that of men, it is unlikely even without discrimination against women that they will be as represented as men at the top of the earnings distribution. For while combining household with market activities hurts average earnings, it is a really strong hindrance to having enough time to make that supreme commitment to work that is usually necessary to achieve great financial success.” Judge Posner commented on Becker’s post and covered some additional issues. In particular he noted that if women get better grades in college on average (as the data shows) that maybe they are being discriminated against during the admission process. He said this might be rational on the schools part, if men donate more money.
That is just an example of the economic analysis Becker and Posner bring to legal issues, at least once a week. I strongly recommend reading this blog, just to bring a different perspective to your thinking if nothing else.
Legal Marketing and Practice
I first heard of using blogs to market your law practice from Rick Klau during a panel we were on together back in 2003. Rick told a story about how he had written a post on Brobeck (the former marketing power house…) and been contacted by the press. At that time I thought… reach the press, who need information that is quickly updated, that makes sense. That week I made a quick blog on blogger, it was going to be a new product. Then I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to have some quality time to relax and think. So I made my first real blog with my dog Little Sheba the Hug Pug. Once Justia came online as a development company in 2005, Ken and I started writing the Justia Legal SEO & Marketing Blog (this one) and we have recently added the Justia Law Review Blog. Rick was right… blogging is a good tool for legal marketing.
The big legal marketing story this week was the new Avvo lawyer directory. It was in stealth for over a year (except for their VC funding press releases) and is now in beta. Kevin O’Keefe broke the news on Monday. And sure enough Avvo was released on Tuesday.
Mark Britton gave the reason for Avvo to the Seattle Times (Tuesday, June 5, 2007):
“There’s no established brand in the legal industry,” Britton said.
“When you are looking for a book, there’s Amazon; when travel, you have Expedia; for jobs, there’s Monster; and when it comes to search, there’s Google. But when it comes to legal, there’s nothing.”
The blog reviews of Avvo were mixed, with most legal blogs being somewhat negative. The basic issues were the (1) numeric scoring, (2) incorrect and missing data and (3) functionality (having to use a credit card to claim a profile… etc…). Bob Ambrogi sort of summed up the thoughts of many in the legal community about Avvo:
So can the worth of a lawyer be calculated in a numerical score? Call me a skeptic. The problem is that the qualities that make a great lawyer are intangible. Yes, a disciplinary record is a tangible fact that reflects poorly on a lawyer. But what about a lawyer’s win/loss record in the courtroom? Perhaps the lawyer has lost more than won, but perhaps that is because the lawyer is a committed advocate willing to take on the tough cases no one else will. What kind of scoring system could calculate that? What kind of mathematical scoring system could measure a lawyer’s ability to provide sage counsel to distraught individuals or troubled businesses?
The problems inherent in a site such as this are illustrated in an article published today by CNET’s Declan McCullagh, Lawyer Rating Site Not Without Objections. After testing Avvo, McCullagh found it “riddled with bizarre errors, profiles of attorneys who have been dead for more than a century and inexplicable scores in which some felons received better ratings than law school deans and internationally renowned litigators.”
Bob’s partner on the Legal Talk Network (see below) J. Craig Williams was dead man practicing for awhile on Avvo (see Avvo-cadabra; It’s Got Me As A Cadaver on JCW’s May it Please the Court blog), but a data error was fixed, some data added and now JCW is a 10.
Carolyn Elefant also gave a detailed analysis of the Avvo directory on Legal Blog Watch and on her own My Shingle blog with her post “Judge Bork’s choice of counsel and the Avvo rating system” (Judge Bork chose Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn) in Judge Bork’s personal injury case against the Yale Club for $1 Million (you can also read about the Judge Bork law suit on Overlawyered, Legal Juice, Eric Turkewitz’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog). Her analysis was a number would not tell the true value of an attorney, even if the profile information was complete. There is more to it than just skill, there is the relationship between the lawyer and the client.
And Larry Bodine also gave a run through on Avvo, including my own “Looks Good” post (it is pretty, and I see the ratings are primarily as a way to “get” the lawyers to update their profiles, which will be of value, even if the rating itself never is). And of course there might be a few Avvo related lawsuits.
Onto other marketing news, Tom Kane had an interesting post on his blog “Letting Partners Go Is Nothing New” about some of the recent firings at Mayer Brown. The key point is a reference to a previous post he wrote a year and a half ago…. “Rainmakers Don’t Get Fired” (worth reading again for those working in large firms — nonrainmaking solo’s don’t get fired, they starve).
Susan Cartier Liebel had an interesting post on firing your clients. This is a great post to read, and it applies to more than just law firms. I especially liked how she classified the clients into Star Customers, Vulnerable Customers, Free Riders, and The Lost Cause. Check out this and other articles on Susan’s blog.
And there are a number of blogs that help lawyers blog better. One of the best is LexBlog’s Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Kevin posts everyday (often multiple times a day), finding information on other lawyer and general marketing blogs and helping apply what he learns to information you can use in your legal blogging. In the last week, Kevin has covered search engine optimization, blog design, using blogs to build your personal brand, as well as numerous other topics (including breaking the Avvo release news). Kevin uses his time on the Bainbridge to Seattle ferry twice a day to bring you the news. I like Kevin, but I love his blog 🙂
Blogging in Court
Of course there can be some dangers of blogging. Eric Turkewitz has a few interesting posts on his New York Personal Injury Law Blog about a doctor who was blogging live during his own trial. He has a rundown of the case in a post he did a couple of weeks ago. This week Eric wrote 3 new posts on the blogging doctor case – deconstructing the Trial of Flea Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3. The last post talks about the morality of the Boston Globe publishing the doctors name, thus assuring that the doctor will be associated with the case for many years to come… thanks to Google (I agree with Eric that the name was not necessary to the story, so I will not repeat it here).
There were some posts on privacy issues this week. Two of my favorites were from Professor Froomkin and Professor Bainbridge.
Those of us in the San Francisco Bay area who have bought a FasTrak pass to avoid toll booths and use electronic metering when crossing the bridges have saved time, but have lost our privacy. Professor Michael Froomkin posted about how lawyers in the SF Bay area have issued subpoenas to get FasTrak data (which tracks when a FasTrak car crosses a toll bridge). Professor Froomkin also notes that he had predicted this in his Stanford Law Review article The Death of Privacy?, 52 Stan L. Rev. 1461 (2000).
Another privacy post favorite is Professor Stephen Bainbridge’s take on Google Street View and (the lack of) privacy. Well there has been a lot of talk about how Google Street View has been impacting privacy. Professor Bainbridge was so upset that he removed his Google widgets. Professor Bainbridge is also upset about a number of other things Google is or is not doing (no Memorial Day logo on a private company’s home page on Memorial Day? part of his list as to why those who run Google are evil). Interestingly, Professor Bainbridge links to photo highlights of the privacy violations he complains about (I do not see pictures on a public street as privacy violations – so here are the links on Google Blogscoped and Laudontech). In any case even when I disagree with him, the ProfessorBainbridge.com blog is another blog I love to read. And Professor Bainbridge announced that he will be speaking about Sarbanes-Oxley at the Center for Legal Policy at the Manhattan Institute in New York City on Tuesday June 19th at noon.
And Professor Bainbridge transitions us to the Lawyer 2 Lawyer show with the up from the dead J Craig Williams (Bob Amrbogi had the day off). Professor Bainbridge and Dr. Robert Klitzman were the panelists on the show about Andrew Speaker’s potential liability (and morality) in traveling with drug resistant form of TB. You can get more informatio
n about the show here or subscribe to an RSS feed or listen to on iTunes.
Mary Minow noted on the Library Law Blog that there is a podcast on the Section 108 Study Group with member Peter Hirtle, the Intellectual Property Officer at the Cornell University Libraries on Public Knowledge’s Website. (Section 108 of the Copyright Law covers copyright exceptions for libraries and archives). You can download the mp3 here. And Mary is now tracking the documents filed in a some Federal cases involving libraries (see case list) using a backend Justia helped set up for her.
WisBlawg’s Bonnie Shucha had information on the CALI Survey of Law Student Use of Faculty Podcasts. CALI is working with law schools to enable professors to record their lectures. 75% of students rated podcasts value as Excellent or Above Average. Most students used a PC to listen to the podcasts.
There are number of blogs that cover new case decisions. Here are few of my favorites.
Professor Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog covers many of the breaking Internet and technology cases in the Federal and state courts. This week he covered a couple of cases brought buy Zango against PC Tools and Kaspersky (post 2 and post 3) (Adware maker Zango does not want PC Tools or Kaspersky security products to detect and keep Zango software from installing), as well as some jurisdictional issues in other cases. Of course Professor Goldman’s blog has more than just case updates.
Michael Hassen’s Class Action Defense Blog has great summaries of recent Federal and California class action cases. And although they did not have any posts this week, The Maryland Court Watcher Blog is a great blog for learning about new Maryland cases. Ron Miller also gives some interesting legal analysis of cases, along with trial and practice tips in his Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog. And Steven Merican’s Illinois Appellate Lawyer Blog contains case summaries and analysis of many Illinois opinions, including a few this week.
There is no way I can match the excellent (organized and long 🙂 Blawg Review #111 that Bill Gratsch did last week. Dennis Kennedy wrote a complementary post after reading Bill’s Blawg Review, and thought it might be a good idea to reread the future of blogging conversation on betweenlawyers from a couple of years ago, and think about how it ties into the Bill’s Blawg Review #111.
Covering the blawgosphere is one of the great features of Blawg’s Blawg. Bill writes the Blawg.com Sunday Paper post, where he does a his own summary of posts from different blogs. You can read this week’s Sunday Paper, covering everything from women’s legal practice area choices to knowledge management and Avandia law suits, Patent policy and more… It is a nice discovery tool of new blogs and ideas that can be read in addition to Blawg Review. Check out the Sunday Paper archive.
Sabrina I. Pacifici BeSpacific blog constantly alerts readers to legal and government resources, as well as private Websites and other services and products of interest to lawyers. This is a blog I always check and follow.
Additional Posts of Interest
Ken Adams has a nice post on the dos and don’ts of contract drafting. I found it quite informative, as I am finalizing up a lease for new office space right now.
Raul Jose at PaperStreet announced on their blog that they have launched the Umdoni and Vulamehlo HIV/AIDS Association Website. The association focuses on the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on rural communities in the UGU district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Profoessor Paul L. Caron wrote a post about a Pennsylvania Court ruling that a Google search is not sufficient for the government to sell property for back taxes. The court ruled they should have also tried the phone book.
There is also a post on productivity (no meetings), on hiring the best people and a three part article on the truth about VCs (parts 1, 2 and 3). A must read for startup folks. Read the VC posts with this article in Inc about Friendster. Marc’s article gives good advice of when and when not to raise funds. And the Inc article gives an interesting view of how the VCs and professional startup managers play in the system while looking for the home run. Marc’s blog is not exactly about law, although he says ex-lawyer VCs might be good at fixing parking tickets.
Law Dawg Blawg Dawg of the Week
Finally, this weeks Dawg of the Week on the Dawg Law Blawg is Dooley. He looks very happy and nice and is recovering from heart worm disease (he wants everyone to know that they should have their dogs checked for heart worms too – you can learn more from the American Heartworm Society). For us at Justia, the Dawg Law Blawg Dawg of the Week is the most important post of the week. It is the one we all look forward to!
Well there are some of the seemingly random blogs I read, with a few others posts thrown in, and few blogs left out (because they did not post this week or I ran out of time 🙂 Keep on blawging, and please submit your own blawg to BlawgSearch.com (and Blawg.com 🙂 if it is good :).