Blawg Review

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

They're Working On It

Somewhere in California, the brand strategists at Whisper are busy "working" on Blawg Review #169. [See below.] Given the time zone and the other things they have to work on, we can't be sure when it will be done.

Well, it's done well. Grok this!

Blawg Review #169

Lawyers, and law firms, have always been brands.

As with any organization, product, or service, people think about a lawyer or law firm in terms of a handful of qualities or attributes, a promise, some kind of story.

That simple narrative can have a major impact on their decision to contact a particular firm, to buy its services, to do business there, and to affiliate with the lawyer.

In today’s globalized, networked world, every lawyer has to compete with every other lawyer for their share of the world’s clients, businesses, capital, respect, and attention.

How a lawyer or law firm stakes out and communicates their distinctive place within the world largely determines which ones succeed, and which falter, in the race for economic prosperity.

Welcome to the latest edition of Blawg Review.

We are pleased to host what has become a weekly must read for those within, and for many outside, the legal profession. Which points to how a brand consultancy comes to host a blog pointed to law professionals.

Our firm is led by a lawyer, your host for this edition. Although maintaining active licenses in three U.S. jurisdictions, I no longer actively engage in the profession.

In looking back through a career beginning as prosecutor, to civil litigator, later as general counsel, to CEO of an international brand consultancy, a common thread exists. In each position, although early on without understanding it as such, I relied upon the art of branding. As a prosecutor and later as civil litigator, my target audience was twelve people in a jury box, rather than the mass markets we attract for clients today. But the principles remain the same—offer a compelling narrative, otherwise become lost in the white noise of contemporary culture.

We are proud to share that later this year, our work and that of the legal profession will give birth to a new offering by the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law. Watch for it.

With that, let’s look to lawyers demonstrating their brands and thereby revealing their unique genius, rather than devolving to labored explanations of relevancy.

This week, What About Clients? links back to one of the rules of Dan Hull’s “muscle boutique” law firm.

Rule Six: When You Work, You Are Marketing. When your firm works for a client or customer, it transmits “barrages of small but powerful, memorable ads”.

Rule Six is more a truth to be kept in mind than a “rule.” This is where the needs of clients and their lawyers come together. It’s about value to both. But you can’t forget this one. Keeping or not keeping in mind the germ of Rule Six–that “when you work, you are marketing”–is the difference between having a financially healthy practice and having to close your doors.

Trial lawyer and jury consultant Anne Reed at Deliberations tells a story about Your Client, The Jury, And You.

David Giacalone at f/k/a anticipates today’s theme, if there is one—lawyers and law firm branding:

Over at Ed’s Blawg Review, I see that Blawg Review #169 will be hosted on Monday, July 21, by Whisper, a weblog about brand strategy (which, honest, they call B.S.) — and which is “founded on one big idea: ‘The key to any effective marketing, branding or advertising effort is to change and take ownership of the conversation’.” For a contrarian perspective on branding and lawyers, you might want to check out a few posts from the early days of ethicalEsq.

A baby-boomer myself, I don’t know where David Giacalone gets all the energy for his creative poetry and erudite punditry.

Elsewhere in the blawgosphere, the indefatigable Howard Bashman, continuously streaming legal news at How Appealing, draws our attention to a recent article by Marcia Coyle in The National Law Journal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently ruled for the first time that sleeping is a “major life activity” under the federal Rehabilitation Act. Reversing its own precedent, the court also held that a plaintiff doesn’t have to show that his sleep disability affected his waking activities in order to move forward with a discrimination claim.

Professor Eric Goldman, another tireless law blogger observes: “My Sprawling Digital Empire, Where to Find Me Online and My Friending Policy”.

Across the pond, at Ruthie’s Law, we find the charming Ruth Barber somewhat tired of blogging about herself in the third person.

Dear readers…Ruthie is finding that a combination of her dayjob and her DIY projects are increasingly taking up her blogging time…and she is increasingly in demand for writing that she actually gets paid for. Rather than leave you all in suspense, I’ll let you know the bad news and the good news. The bad news; I fear that this blog may have to come to an end. The good news: Ruthie plans to resurrect herself in due course, phoenix like on a website with some quality articles. I simply no longer have the spare hours in a day to properly service a blog with quality submissions. I think a website will be easier.

…like Duncan Bucknell?

…or Professor Bainbridge?

…or Enrico Schaefer’s Fully Integrated Web/Blog: A Law Firm Website? Anonymously famous as The Greatest American Lawyer, Enrico Schaefer at Traverse Legal was one of the pioneers of the concept of the virtual law office.

Now, Dan Slater at The Wall Street Journal Law Blog, writes about a new virtual law firm atYour Life Now? Working in a Virtual World:

Imagine this: You’re a corporate lawyer living in Tiburon, a bucolic suburb of Marin County. In the morning, your lawyer friends don office-appropriate garb, hop the ferry, and then wend their way through the bustle of city life, arriving, ultimately, at a fancy San Fran firm, where their billing rates must be high enough to cover the costs of fancy offices and legions of fancy associates.

Now your life: After taking a few client calls from your home that overlooks the water, you see that it’s another beautiful day in the Bay Area. (After all, it’s incontrovertible fact that there are no bad days in the Bay Area.) So you pack up your laptop and a few files, walk down the street to Sam’s Cafe, take a table on the back deck, order Sam’s fish & chips, and finish up the day’s work as you communicate with your “partners” through a virtual law firm.

Carolyn Elefant at Legal Blog Watch demurs with Are Virtual Law Firms Really a New Idea?

Leo Babauta at Zen Habits, has something helpful for busy lawyers with The List to Beat All Lists: Top 20 Productivity Lists to Rock Your Tasks.

Rob La Gatta on LexBlog’s “Real Lawyers Have Blogs” offers advice for lawyers gleaned at BlogHer 2008, the annual conference for women who blog, in this — BlogHer ‘08: Ditch the legalese, says Kelly Phillips Erb.

Pasadena, California insurance lawyer George M. Wallace has an entertaining post on his eclectic blog — a fool in the forest — at Livre Free or Die.

Supreme Dicta posts a picture of the Best Newspaper Graphic Ever!

Kashmir Hill at Above the Law writes about Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: It’s Dress-Up Barbie Time! By the way, Bob Ambrogi reports that there are big changes in store for Above the Law — guess who’s leaving!

Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog picks his Site of the Week:

Canadian Law Professor Michael Geist links to a parody mashup:

They Indeed Have Gone Crazy (feat. Josee Verner). Learn how the new Copyright Bill C-61 threatens ordinary creators instead of protecting them. Starring: Josee Verner, Lawrence Lessig and journalist Sandra Abma of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in a parody mashup starring Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

One of the very few law bloggers who, like Madonna, is such a famous brand, she’s known by one name, Althouse. She blogs this week with a video discussing the uproar about Jesse Jackson saying Obama is “talking down to black people … telling [n-word] how to behave.”

The Innocence Project Blog reports on ‘McJustice’ - the crisis of indigent defense in America.

Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft: the politics of crime reports that ABC Journalist Faces 20 Yrs and Caning For One Gram of Meth.

Kieran Healey, a sociologist, blogging on Crooked Timber talks about Reversing Mass Imprisonment. Speaking of Kieran Healey, Professor Mark Lieberman at Language Log explains Sociophysics.

Professor Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy asks, “Why Does the United States Have an Exclusionary Rule?” and a conversation ensues in the comments.

Colin Samuels at Infamy or Praise asks, “In the meantime, will someone please buy Mr. Heller a revolver?”

Michael Arrington, a lawyer himself in a previous life, is now at TechCrunch reporting that Bloggers Want Out Of Playboy Poll.

Charles Green at Trust Matters discusses How Contracts Can Feed Trust Rather than Destroy It.

Charles Green is the founder of the Carnival of Trust, which I had the pleasure of hosting on the Whisper blog last October.

This month’s edition of the Carnival of Trust includes posts of interest to lawyers, such as this one:

Can you trust your lawyer? Jordan Furlong of Law21 says absolutely, even daring to propose that “lawyers are amazingly trustworthy as individuals, possessing (in my perhaps biased view) more courage and moral fiber than can be found in many other walks of life.”

Charlie Green added this comment to the original post:


What a great post, and very well said. I think lawyers could benefit greatly from your point of view.

While Seth Godin’s view is understandable, and not wrong, I have nonetheless found that the best lawyers do not fully buy it:

-The best divorce lawyers are those who counsel couples to make their last time together worthy of the good times, rather than pouring gasoline on the enraged fires of pained people operating from temporarily deranged motives like revenge;

-The best litigators are those who heed the advice of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, to the effect that the best victories come from wars that are never fought;

-The best corporate lawyers are those who help advance the brand, image, reputation, customer focus and organizational health of their employers, rather than channeling Cassandra or viewing themselves as self-appointed Chief Risk Mitigation Officers;

I also have found a great many lawyers who are principled, and are intrinsically inclined to the concept of service or other-orientation. They feel pained at the notion that their better instincts must be subordinated to the notion of gun-for-hire. Voices like yours give them warranted hope; please keep it up.

Comment by Charles H. Green | July 10, 2008

In this month’s Carnival of Trust, see also The More Meetings, The Less Trust, which is recommended this week as “Absolutely essential reading!

In other news in the blawgosphere…

A lawyer near our Newport Beach office, J. Craig Williams on May It Please the Court, advises that a City’s Potholes May Be More Than A Trivial Defect.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered reports on a Google AdWords class action.

IP maven Ron Coleman blogs about a case in which he successfully represented a client.

Every case’s facts, procedural posture, and trial has its unique aspects, and both Designer Skin’s lawyers and LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® can think of things that we would have very much thought could and should have gone differently before and during trial. Nonetheless, as with every judicial ruling, one can take the words and principles expressed for what they are worth. For victims of the abuse of the intellectual property laws by “brand equity” companies using trademark and copyright as cudgels to retain exclusive, inefficient and anti-competitive business practices — and, unfortunately, those jurists who may unwittingly act as their handmaidens but whose minds are yet open — these words from Judge Teilborg, which appear largely based, as to the damages issue, on Lexmark International v. Static Control Components, 387 F.3d 522 (6th Cir. 2000)*, may be worth quite a bit.

Professor Frank Pasquale at Concurring Opinions points to The Best Commentary on that Idiotic New Yorker Cover. . . and, pointing further, also check out this commentary by David Giacalone on the New Yorker Cover: obama, satire, and the PC Police.

Yankees fanatic Monica Bay at the Common Scold reports on the the 2008 All-Star Game.

Speaking of ALM, ahem, Incisive Media…Eric Turkewitz, of New York Personal Injury Law Blog fame, is networking bigtime!

Oh, and Professor Kevin Maillard at The Faculty Lounge reports that You Should Know: Angelina Jolie Births Twins.

Diane Levin at the Mediation Channel says, “Don’t forget to dance.

Another neighbor in Newport Beach, Denise Howell at Bag and Baggage knows what she means.

Professor Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says the music industry picked on the wrong mom. They made her take down a 30-second YouTube video of her child dancing to a Prince song, and are now locked in a contest with an underestimated adversary.

The famously anonymous editor of Blawg Review, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in Newport Beach, has a good post about how to write a Blawg Review that swings.

Thanks, Ed, for helping me make this one swing, too, suggesting that I end this Blawg Review where it began, in a manner of speaking — What About Paris?

Blawg Review identifies next week’s host, Simple Justice, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

On behalf of each of our team at Whisper, we trust you enjoyed this edition of Blawg Review as much as we relished the opportunity to contribute to this vital forum.

Blawg's Law

Last week we enjoyed hosting Blawg Review, a weekly blog carnival for anyone interested in law.

Blawg Review has developed a golden reputation within the legal community for intelligent, insightful commentary to a wide audience within the legal profession.

Reaction came from a variety of sources, including Infamy Or Praise, New York Personal Injury Blog, f/k/a, Chicago Litigation Blog, What About Clients, Above The Law, and the IP blog, Securing Innovation.

The Wall Street Journal also linked to the column.

Diane Levin at Mediation Channel put a bow around our column with this:

What is branding? Whisper captures it neatly: Defining why you are, so that you become the only logical choice for what you offer.

Whisper’s approach to brand strategy is simple: Whisper is founded on one big idea: “The key to any effective marketing, branding or advertising effort is to change and take ownership of the conversation.”

Helping people shape and take ownership of the conversation is something we mediators know plenty about. But branding our work and branding ourselves? — not so much, as my colleague Tammy Lenski has pointed out. Whisper, however, has a lot to teach us. Blawg Review #169 presents examples of effective branding and shares Whisper’s philosophy of strategic brand building.

This week’s edition is hosted by Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice.