Blawg Review

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

Health Care Law Bob

Robert Coffield is hosting Blawg Review #44 and, as is our custom, we wanted to share a bit about this West Virginian lawyer and his law blog as a "preview" of his Health Care Law Blog.

Always wanting to offer more than can be gleaned from the host blawg itself, or from a lawyerly bio that you might expect to find on a law firm website, the pleasant duty falls on your editor at Blawg Review to try to get to know each of our hosts personally. Like most bloggers, we have bouts of blogger's block, the online equivalent of writer's block. So, this week, we went "behind the blog" to get to know more about Bob.

We tracked down our next host, a ways from his office in West Virginia, in Florida at an American Health Lawyers Association conference on Hospitals and Health Systems. It was a good chance to talk with Bob outside the office, and away from the blog, to find out what's on his mind these days. As expected, he had some interesting answers to some questions we'd like to ask him if we could get together. Here's what we learned.

Bob, I have to admit that I don't know a thing about Health Care Law, except what I read in law blogs, so bear with me. I read this week on the Health Law Prof Blog that a judge was saying recently that Medicare regulations are "complex, confusing and arguably incoherent at times" so I'm not sure where to begin...
Whenever I attend an AHLA CLE event I'm struck by the breadth and depth of expertise required to practice in the health care field. Over the last couple of days I've had the chance to hear some of the leading experts in a variety of regulatory health law topics. When I attend conferences like this I'm always struck by just how complex our world has become.
How does your law blog help you manage that complexity?
One of the unexpected consequences of starting to blog about my practice area was the ability to maintain an archive of links/thoughts on various federal and state regulatory and case law impacting my clients. I often post links to federal/state regulations that I come across as I am doing work for a particular client.
So, blogging is another technology to help you organize information relevant to your practice, rather than an exercise in personal publishing or punditry?
On numerous occasions I have had other clients ask about the same issue/regulation and I can quickly use my blog to locate the regulation, refresh what I might need to know about the regulation, advise the client or send them a link with information.
It's about using technology like blogging to serve clients better...
I've always had an interest in technology and more importantly the proper use of technology to make life, work, etc. more efficient. Many people out there use technology but I think few really use the full potential of the hardware and software that they have before them. I'm always preaching—whether to our firm IT committee, other lawyers or staff—we have to improve on how we use the software and current technology in front of us.
I guess it's a lot for some lawyers to keep up with technology, while managing a traditional legal practise.
The pace of change of technology is astounding to me. Back in 1984 when I graduated from high school I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams where we would be 20 years later. I was working on an Apple IIe in those days with 128kb of ram. I left for college with a manual typewriter (probably the last generation to do so). Mid way through my first semester at Bethany College I was using the mainframe to write my papers and shelved my manual typewriter. By the end of college I was working on the new macs that hit campus as a part of a pilot project by an alum of Bethany who worked at Apple—the pilot was named "MacBeth".
Heh, and now it's Blawg Review #43 with a Shakespearean theme...
Anyway, after taking a few years off, I went to law school with an upgraded Mac and started to use Boolean search for the first time via Westlaw and Lexis. I credit this early search training as the reason that many younger attorneys are so good at using today's search engines. One memory that sticks in my mind from the College of Law at WVU is seeing a pile of old electric typewriters piled in a corner of a room that were moved to make way for a new computer Westlaw lab. It was like a bunch of rotting dinosaurs in the corner. Next it was 1994 (second year of practice) when I watched as older lawyers and legal secretaries start using a "mouse" for the first time as everyone moved away from DOS. Having used a mouse for years as a Mac user—it was an interesting transition to watch. Next it was email and the Internet explosion. I recall AOL when it was black and white text based with no graphics. I signed on when they were touting we just passed the 50,000 user mark. Next it was listserves and now blogging.
What got you into blogging, yourself?
As I reflect on what first attracted me to start blogging back in July 2004—I can't really recall what got me started. I suspect I read something about starting your own blog and gave Blogger a whirl. I've enjoyed the contacts and world that I have found through the blogging network—it certainly has helped to allow me to stay up-to-date on a variety of topics.
I notice that when you first set up your law blog you were back and forth deciding whether to use the title Health Care Law Blog, or Blawg. What do you think about the head cases around here debating neologisms like that?
Recently I heard a new term used to refer to Robert Scoble as an "edge case". I really like the term and think that most of those who regularly read and contribute to Blawg Review are probably "edge cases" in their own respective fields. We all find ourselves educating others about the value and benefits of efficient use of technology—blogs and RSS are just the latest in a long list of these edge developments.
That's certaily one of the enjoyable aspects of Blawg Review for me—keeping in touch with lawyers at the leading edge of their respective areas of the law. For you, it's Health Care Law. How so?
My family has been in West Virginia since the mid 1700s. Health care runs in my bloodline. I had a grandfather and father who were both "country doctors" caring for families from birth to death. They not only knew their patient, but their parents, grandparents, brothers/sisters, uncles/aunts and cousins. They practiced true continuity of care—something you don't see in today's highly specialized and often disconnected health care system.
Or in the practise of law, it seems. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. We're really looking forward to your presentation of the best recent law blog posts in your Blawg Review #44. And, hey, don't get too stressed over themes, Bob. Content is king, and I'm sure you'll have lots of great submissions and recommendations to share with us this week.