Blawg Review

It's not just a blog carnival; it's the law! ~ a fool in the forest

Adam Smith, Esq.

a blawg reviewed by Regan Morris at Lawcrossing

Bruce MacEwen is the host of Adam Smith, Esq., a legal blog focused on the economics of law firms. LawCrossing speaks with MacEwen about his life in the "blogosphere" and his dream to be part of a world where law firms are managed like major companies.

Bruce MacEwen started his Adam Smith blog—which can be found at—at the start of 2004. As he is an attorney, businessman, and consultant, MacEwen's passion lies in the business of law, and he holds the belief that big firms need to hire more professional managers. He felt there was a gap in the so-called blogosphere. While there were many legal blogs, there were none focused on the business and management of law firms.

MacEwen, 47, started a dot-com company during the technology boom to connect Am Law 100 firms with Fortune 1000 companies. While his company didn't survive the NASDAQ crash of 2000, MacEwen's faith and interest in technology did.

"I was interested in blogging in general because I thought it was a fascinating new technology platform," he said. "But I wasn't at all sure that I'd like it, and there's always the dangerous reality that you might not have anything to say. So I started in stealth mode. I only told my wife."

It turns out MacEwen did have something to say. He went public a few months later, by emailing his site around to other legal bloggers. Now, MacEwen gets about 30,000 readers per month.

MacEwen, who lives in Manhattan, said the blog has opened up many professional doors for him and made him a more critical thinker and reader. Instead of skimming a legal article, he now focuses more intently, always thinking of the blog and if he could add something for his readers. MacEwen's ultimate goal is to work as an executive director of an Am Law 100 firm. When not writing his blog, he works as a business and legal consultant.

"The blog has been shockingly successful in terms of getting my name out," he said. "But it's really just part of trying to establish a reputation for somebody who thinks long and hard about these things."

MacEwen has plenty of strong opinions, which is key to writing a good blog, or at least one people want to read. MacEwen thinks big law firms too often promote great attorneys with little management experience instead of hiring managers. Great attorneys often do not make great managers, he said.

The 100 biggest American firms should be run more like similarly sized corporations, MacEwen said. Many of the Am Law 100 firms are $500-million companies. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom does more than $1 billion in business a year.

"If you compare how they're managed to a similarly sized corporation, it's almost a shocking gap. So what I'm really passionate about is bringing more professional management to law firms," he said. "Lawyers tend to think that they can do everything. Typically, the people who rise to the top in a law firm partnership rise to the top because they're incredibly good at serving their clients and they're very good judges of human nature, but it doesn't mean that they think about management issues."

MacEwen started his career as an associate in several (now-defunct) New York firms before moving to Wall Street, where he specialized in securities law. He spent 10 years with Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter, where his interest in business increased. He earned 98 percent of an M.B.A. at night through New York University (the remaining 2 percent is the result of an unfinished dysfunctional group project).

MacEwen also has strong opinions about a sacred cow in the legal profession: the billable hour. It may be good for the firm, but not necessarily for the client. MacEwen thinks law firms will move away from the billable hour kicking and screaming.

"Sophisticated clients really are beginning to demand that law firms price their services based on value received as opposed to what the billable hour represents, which in my mind as an econ major is the cost of production," he said. "And the clients have not yet tightened the screws enough on this issue. The firms won't change it; the clients will be required to change it."

MacEwen, a marathon runner and opera lover, said he never had a 20-year goal to become executive director of a law firm, but that all of his experiences converged into his passion for law and business, which is why he enjoys writing the blog so much. Because he is an expert in securities law, it took him a few years to discover that his real passion was management, not practicing law.

"If you haven't found what you're passionate about, you better keep looking," he said. "Because if you're operating at 90 percent because you're lacking passion, I promise you there's somebody down the hall operating at 120 percent because they're in the zone. And I hate to tell you, they're going to win."

MacEwen dedicated his blog to Adam Smith because he was an intellectual hero.

"He's obviously the Godfather of capitalism. He published The Wealth of Nations in the remarkably fitting year of 1776, and it's a book that if you re-read it today—which I have recently—it holds up brilliantly," he said.

MacEwen said he updates the blog when he feels he has something important to say or report, not necessarily every day (although he does often update the site daily). The blog has resulted in numerous professional contacts, and MacEwen is now collaborating with a professor at Indiana University Law School on a course on the business of law firms, one of the few such courses in the nation.

MacEwen said the legal-blogging world is a very generous and helpful group—more than a dozen legal bloggers recently met in New York. He said he hopes he sees more attorney bloggers in the future.

"Lawyers are articulate, opinionated people who can typically express themselves fairly well, particularly if they're not writing in a technical context," he said. "I think the intersection of the blogosphere and the legal landscape is a marriage made in heaven. Lawyers sell knowledge, and blogs are all about knowledge."

Previewing Blawg Review #8

Mike Cernovich will host Blawg Review #8 at Crime & Federalism next Monday, so we'd like to give you a bit of a preview here.

A graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, Mike served nine years in the National Guard and Army Reserves, where he graduated from Officer Candidate School and served as an Executive Officer at an aviation unit. His military record and academic background are impressive.

Mike has also studied trial advocacy under some of the greatest trial lawyers in the country; he graduated from Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College Regional Seminar, and Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College Advanced Regional Seminar, and he just passed the California Bar Exam. So he's well prepared. Don't let his easy going, friendly manner fool you—he'd love nothing more than to beat the shit out of you in court.

Long before Mike Cernovich started making a name for himself in the blawgosphere, he was familiar to many blog readers as Federalist No. 84, under which pseudonym he wrote a very helpful guest post titled "Turning a Blog Into Your Blawg: Fourteen Steps to Finding Your Voice in the Blawgosphere."

Mike started off as a solo blogger at Crime & Federalism before taking his own advice and adding a permanent co-blogger, Norm Pattis, an accomplished criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, and a writer. In a recent guest post on Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground titled "Weblogging with a Co-Blogger: Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?" he offered this advice to bloggers:
If you're familiar with your friend's writing, then blogging with him or her should be appropriate. You'll have a feel for your co-blogger's style and quirks. My permanent co-blogger, Norm, is a bit irreverent: his topic of choice is making hamburgers from sacred cows. Guest-blogger Sandefur is uber-cerebral, and his posts are generally long. Both styles differ from mine, but I'm glad to have them.

I had read their previous writings and thus knew what to expect. They're both tough-talking and controversial. Which is something someone who seeks to avoid controversy needs to know before the blogging relationship begins.
Mike says his favorite aspect of blogging is meeting people across the country. "Blawgging is like throwing a bottle with a note in it into the ocean. You never know who's going to find you, or who you’re going to meet."

If you'd like to get one of your recent blawg posts included in Blawg Review #8 on Crime & Federalism, get your submission in early this week. Mike is really looking forward to introducing some great law bloggers to his regular readers.

Sentencing Law & Policy

a blawg reviewd by Mike Cernovich

By the way, happy birthday to Professor Berman's Sentencing Law & Policy, which turned one last week. Berman rarely sings his own praises (and, I guess when your blawg is as good as his is, there's no need to draw attention its author; the thing speaks for itself). So I'll do it.

Berman, a sentencing law expert, began blogging right as Blakely came down. Though there were many blawgs before his, few blawggers had his talent; and none had his timing. Indeed, if memory serves me, several state and federal judges cited to his Blakely-related commentary, making his blawg the first one cited in a published opinion. When he broke an exclusive story, the U.S. Supreme Court tipped its hat. Given that blogs are still avant-garde, those nods were doubly special.

If it's true that luck is the intersection of opportunity and ability, Berman is the luckiest blawgger. Happy Blawgday, and please, keep it up.

Previewing Blawg Review #7

"If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell." - quoted by an Illinois native, Carl Sandburg, in The People, Yes (1936)

Jeremy Richey's Blawg adapts this apocryphal trial lawyer's advice to a young litigator in the tagline of his blog: When I'm not pounding the books, I'm pounding the law, the facts, or the table.

Jeremy's a law student (rising 3L) at SIU School of Law, future litigator, blawger, and instigator of the vast right-wing conspiracy. And he's hosting Blawg Review #7 on Jeremy Richey's Blawg next Monday. This is a great Blawg Review opportunity for red-state lawyers, wingnuts, and instapundits with law degrees who've been holding out—waiting for a sensible conservative blawg to submit a post. It just doesn't get any better than this, does it?

As a young law blogger, and regular commnenter on Evan Schaeffer's Notes from the (Legal) Legal Underground, he's taken notes from his blawgfather and has learned how to craft an entertaining yet credible blog by writing honestly.

Jeremy admits to being part of a student organization called the Christian Legal Society ("CLS").
Our CLS group is part of the national CLS organization. The national organization's rules preclude unrepentant sexual sinners--including fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals--from becoming members or assuming leadership roles, but these individuals are certainly welcome to attend any meeting.
If you think that sounds like fun, and even if you don't, there's more good stuff here. Some of the special features of Jeremy Richey's Blawg that we've come to look forward to are The Weekly Pounding (actually, it's not really as painful as that sounds) which he blawgcasts, The Ideal Law Building, Legal Myths, and something he affectionately calls The Feisty Scalia.

Jeremy writes about his personal experiences at law school, and he'd be the first to tell you it sucks getting yelled at by a law professor. There's always good stuff like this at Jeremy Richey's Blawg, and now he's dressed it all up with a snazzy Wordpress blog design.

If I could select one of his especially creative posts to share with law blog readers here, it might be this:

Dear Id.,

I have never said this to a Latin word or phrase before, but I love you. You see, there is nothing I hate more in the world than putting citations into proper Bluebook form. This is mainly because the Bluebook is a confusing monstrosity that should be shot and put out of its misery. Or at least if someone did in fact shoot it, I would be put out of my misery. But you, Id., you make my life a little easier. I really have a hard time putting in to words how much you mean to me. Let's just put it this way: If the Bluebook ever took you from me, I would never again write a legal paper of any sort. Now that's love my dear Idem, that is love.


And the comments to that stirring post show us that Jeremy knows how to engage his readership.

So, perhaps the best way to sum up Jeremy Richey's Blawg is to share the comments of one of his regular readers, Matt Schuh, who noted recently, "Jeremy, I've gotta give you credit; I've always (as long as I've read it) enjoyed reading your blog, but you've definitely made some real strides in your blogging the last month or so. I don't know what it is, but keep up the good work."

Blawg Review #7

May 22nd, 2005

"Wisdom is the chief and leader: next follows temperance; and from the union of these two with courage springs justice. These four virtues take precedence in the class of divine goods." –Plato


Glenn Reynolds got a free copy of Judge Posner's new book, Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11, and shares a few choice words.

Dave Swanner talks about visiting other firms to learn how to run a better law firm.

All Things Policy makes a few changes while groovin' to Dylan, Clapton, and Brooks.

Stay of Execution acknowledges the elephant in the room and compiles a list of some of the lies members of the legal profession tell law students, young lawyers, and themselves. David Giacalone responds.

The ever-skeptical David Giacalone looks at the newly-announced Diversity Disclosure Pact by NYC bar groups and firms.

What is a Jaded Larrikin? Law School Memoirs lets us know.

It upsets Ambimb when the judge apologizes to the prosecution after the defendant is acquitted.

Michael Cernovich praises the Trial Lawyer's College.


Christine Hurt examines representation of women authors in the Harvard Law Review.

Ann Althouse recognizes her many piles but refuses to abandon blogworld.

Jay Williams finds joy in the law library being open around the clock during finals.

Michel Ayer celebrates Granholm v. Heald, but hopefully not too much.

Denise Howell balances motherhood and her legal career.

Ms. Howell also podcasts how upstart technologies could impact the legal profession.

The Patent Baristas want a generous tax break like the drug makers are getting under the American Jobs Creation Act.

Here's a post by Energy Spatula — do I really have to explain why I put it under this heading?


Evan Schaeffer takes his weblog in a new direction. Perhaps Mr. Schaeffer should sign up for AutoBlogger .

Anthony Rickey takes on Professor Brainbridge. The force is strong within him.

Does it take more courage to file a meritless motion or to face the judge after being derided? JurisPundit has the details.

The goddess may file a Motion to Exchange Clients with Opposing Counsel.

E.L. Eversman writes about chutzpa in Ohio.

David Giacalone brings the weblog cheerleaders back down to earth.

Power Line keeps the Minneapolis Star Tribune accountable.

Editor 'n' Chef submits one of his or her own posts.


Christine Hurt asks if a husband can demand his name back in a divorce, or at least keep his wife from using it in commerce.

Is Nelly getting Vokal? Phosita tells the tale.

Is it possible for a Truth-In-Lending Act opinion to be interesting? Legal Commentary found one that is.

Kevin Thompson takes a look at the growing problem in CyberCrime of extortion by means of distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks.

Ron Coleman writes about a case where reprints of ancient Grateful Dead concert posters in an illustrated book about the rockers was held by the Second Circuit to be a protected fair use.

Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

Filed under: Old Blog by Jeremy |

Previewing Blawg Review #6

next week's host previewed by Evan Schaeffer

Can technology make trial lawyers better? That’s the promise of David Swanner’s South Carolina Trial Law Blog, which boasts this tagline: “Using Technology to be a Better Trial Lawyer.” There you’ll find useful trial tips, often from the perspective of a plaintiffs' lawyer, and helpful posts about practice management issues for all lawyers.

Dave is a plaintiffs' attorney in Myrtle Beach, who started his practice in 1994 straight out of law school. His practice is devoted to "personal injury and workers compensation cases." You can learn more about Dave and his practice on his "about" page. Did you know he was a qualified Hungarian and Arabic linguist for the Army, and was an interrogator in the Army for seven years before he went to law school?.

As a trial lawyer myself, I can personally attest that Dave really knows his stuff when it comes to technology and trial law. In fact, since Dave started his South Carolina Trial Law Blog, I’ve considered it a cousin to my own Illinois Trial Practice Weblog. I love pointing my readers his way—he always offers such good advice—so I keep a link to his weblog handy in my blogrolls. If you'd like a sample of Dave's advice, take a look at the guest post he wrote for Notes from the (Legal) Underground: Twelve Ways Technology Can Make You a Better Trial Lawyer, and visit his blog for more.

It seems you can always count on David Swanner for good stuff, so we're really looking forward to the next Blawg Review being hosted at his South Carolina Trial Law Blog. If you've written an interesting post recently that you'd like Dave to include in his review of the best and the bravest of the blawgosphere, just follow the submission guidelines and file your pleadings before the limitation period expires.

Stay of Execution

a blawg reviewed by Josh

I love Stay of Execution, a blog by Scheherazade (Sherry) Fowler, a “young lawyer, a sailor, an extrovert, and an insatiably curious woman living in Portland, Maine.” I came across her site (I think through Jeremy’s Weblog) shortly after I decided to go to law school, and I’ve been reading ever since, though I admit that from time to time I would think about deleting her. After all, sailing doesn’t interest me, and there aren’t many posts directly applicable to law school. I never followed through, though, and now I’m hooked.

Stay of Execution is great because it manages to connect with the reader so effortlessly. Sherry’s writing is full of personality. She seems thoughtful, confident, truthful… I admire her outgoing, easy way with people. I want my readers to feel like they know me.

Really, I don’t know why I have her in the “blawgs” section. Since I’ve been reading, the law-related posts have been scarce, and now that she has a blog focusing on her professional activities, I doubt that will change. Maybe I should make up a new category, but for now I’ll leave her in “blawgs", if for no other reason than to remind myself that it’s possible for lawyers to be such cool people. Something to aim for, I guess.

Previewing Blawg Review #5

Two heads are better than one, thought Professor Gordon Smith of the University of Wisconsin Law School. So he convinced Christine Hurt at Marquette University Law School to co-blog with him on Conglomerate. Gordon and Christine are both corporate law professors with wide-ranging interests, from entrepreneurial finance to Wall Street finance. Prior to joining forces here on Conglomerate, Gordon blogged at Venturpreneur, and those archives remain on this site. Christine organized a blog of women corporate law professors called Biz Fems Speak! In addition to writing about business and law, Gordon and Christine discuss life in Wisconsin, legal education, popular culture, parenting, and an occasional post about cheese from Gordon.

Conglomerate is one of those blawgs that seems to strike the perfect balance between thoughtful pieces about business law that one might expect from corporate law professors and the unexpected personal stories that tell us a lot about the nice friendly people behind those serious academic credentials. Occasionally, there's a post about some case law that reminds us we're in Packers country.
I was amused by this story about a judge who "ordered a woman convicted of theft to decide whether to spend 90 days in jail or donate her family's Packers tickets next season to charity." Can you imagine the family pressure for her to take the jail time? "C'mon, Mom, take one for the team!"
You'll have to read the comments threads to find out what Christine, a mom herself, thinks about such decisions.

Professor Smith is the faculty advisor to the law students who publish the well-regarded Law & Entrepreneurship News, the blog that hosted the remarkable Blawg Review #4 for us earlier this week. Following that huge success, our carnival for law bloggers is moving on to Conglomerate for next Monday's extravaganza. Be sure not to miss this one—get your post submitted now! This is a special opportunity for business law bloggers to get their best law posts reviewed by a very thoughtful readership.

And, for added flavor, we might even get some of Professor Bainbridge's favorite wine & cheese selections by Professor Smith.

Hoosier Daddy?

a blog reviewed by Monica Bay

Stephen Terrell has followed
up on his threat to launch the Hoosier Daddy blog (as well as the more sedate Hoosier Lawyer blog). The former promises to pontificate on all things Indiana, (although I don't yet see a tribute page or link to David Letterman).

His tag line is "why South Bend is north, North Vernon is south, and French Lick isn't what you think it is." He offers everything from links to Wineries of Indiana, "Eat Here and Get Gas" (Gnaw Bone Food & Fuel), Hoosier movies, Auto racing, and sports.

Here's a sample of his delicious menu:
George Molchan got a 21-wiener whistle salute as he was laid to rest recently -- REALLY!

The 82-year old Molchan protrayed "Little Oscar" for the Oscar Meyer meat company. For more than 30 years, Hobart resident Molchan toured the country in the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile as the company's "Good Wiener Ambassador."

After a final prayer, mourners blew their plastic "wiener whistles" and then sang "Oh I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener." His obituary appeared in the New York Times, Seattle Post Intelligencer, and nearly every newspaper in between.

You can't make this stuff up.
And anybody who can write an ode to dandelions is my kinda guy.

Welcome to the blogosphere.