f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 17, 2004

making sausage and lawBlogs

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:34 pm

Hey law students, I just learned from the weblog of Andrew Sinclair (a 3L at Boston University Law School), that lexBlog is looking for volunteer interns.  An April 13 discussion board posting by Kevin O’Keefe asks: “Have other paying employment and looking for ways to enhance resume or to work towards part-time employment?”  And replies: “Doing virtual volunteer work for new Internet company in the business of helping lawyers help people could be the answer.” 


LexBlog interns would be:



“helping publish content to blogs and in effect creating online magazines/broadcast channels for leading lawyers around the country.”


mouse lawyer small  I know using volunteer interns is not inconsistent with creating high-quality content, but it does shed a different light on the lexBlog claim that “All content is regularly revised, updated and improved by a staff of lawyer-editors, to make sure that it’s the best it can be.


I’m not sure why, but this week-long angsting over the implications of lexBlog’s services  reminds me of the cliche about making laws and sausage.   Like Peter Merholz, who coined the word by cruelly butchering “weblog”, I continue to believe that “blog” sounds far too much like the reaction one might have to watching sausage being made.  Now, “lawBlog” is giving me agita, too.




  • check red  Yesterday (04-16) Denise Howell at B&B updated her posting on ghost-weblogs.  Denise added:  “I’m happy to say the conversation continued in my comments, where Kevin clarified that weblog material purchased from lexBlog appearing on its clients’ sites will be identified as such, so it won’t be anonymous ghostwriting but more like ‘value added.’ That’s great, as is Kevin’s likely well-founded hope that once his clients experience blogging for themselves their garrulous nature will take its course.” 



    • I agree with Denise that this is good news, if third-party content is clearly designated as such — that is, in a manner that will not leave the ordinary consumer confused as to the source of the materials.  [See the discussion earlier today on this page, in response to Jerry Lawson’s Comments and post.]  I’m looking forward to seeing how lexBlog sites look and feel in operation. If any already exist, I hope Kevin will point us over.

I wonder what my good friend foolEsq would do after a week like this? . . wine . . (or, any week?)


Update (04-18-04): Check this thread for another good debate between Jerry Lawson and your Humble Editor.  For example:




Jerry Lawson:  Criticizing the practice of lawyers taking personal credit for ghost-written materials, could serve a useful purpose, but please don’t leave the impression that the phenomenon is somehow new and exclusive to blogs. It’s been around a long time.


Your Editor:  Far from saying that lawyer ghost-writing is particularly a weblog problem, my entire point is that it has not previously been a problem with weblogs — which is why I want to help stop that practice before it becomes entrenched or accepted



If you are too busy to actually maintain a weblog, you perhaps shouldn’t try to become a weblog editor-poseur


I’m also pleased to note that 3L Andrew Sinclair has accepted my invitation to join this discussion, with a thoughtful post at his weblog.   Andrew opines, inter alia, that:



“I might not want to see how Hillshire Farms makes their delicious Polish Sausage, but I want to see the ingredients listed on the package, and I definitely want food inspectors in there checking things out. The same is true for web site content. I expect a certain amount of labeling (who wrote what) and I expect checks against misrepresentation of expertise. It doesn’t sound to me like O’Keefe plans to dodge either of these.”


Update (04-22-04): “Delete Key Neg”  I’m pleased to report that Kevin O’Keefe has re-written the lexBlog premium services page, removing a quotation from author Rebecca Blood, which we have noted was taken out of context (leaving out the importance of hands-on weblogging for achieving expertise and authority status), and which seemed to suggest that Ms. Blood endorsed lexBlog’s services. 

making sausage and lawBlogs

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:34 pm

Hey law students, I just learned from the weblog of Andrew Sinclair (a 3L at Boston University Law School), that lexBlog is looking for volunteer interns.  An April 13 discussion board posting by Kevin O’Keefe asks: “Have other paying employment and looking for ways to enhance resume or to work towards part-time employment?”  And replies: “Doing virtual volunteer work for new Internet company in the business of helping lawyers help people could be the answer.” 


LexBlog interns would be:



“helping publish content to blogs and in effect creating online magazines/broadcast channels for leading lawyers around the country.”


mouse lawyer small  I know using volunteer interns is not inconsistent with creating high-quality content, but it does shed a different light on the lexBlog claim that “All content is regularly revised, updated and improved by a staff of lawyer-editors, to make sure that it’s the best it can be.


I’m not sure why, but this week-long angsting over the implications of lexBlog’s services  reminds me of the cliche about making laws and sausage.   Like Peter Merholz, who coined the word by cruelly butchering “weblog”, I continue to believe that “blog” sounds far too much like the reaction one might have to watching sausage being made.  Now, “lawBlog” is giving me agita, too.




  • check red  Yesterday (04-16) Denise Howell at B&B updated her posting on ghost-weblogs.  Denise added:  “I’m happy to say the conversation continued in my comments, where Kevin clarified that weblog material purchased from lexBlog appearing on its clients’ sites will be identified as such, so it won’t be anonymous ghostwriting but more like ‘value added.’ That’s great, as is Kevin’s likely well-founded hope that once his clients experience blogging for themselves their garrulous nature will take its course.” 



    • I agree with Denise that this is good news, if third-party content is clearly designated as such — that is, in a manner that will not leave the ordinary consumer confused as to the source of the materials.  [See the discussion earlier today on this page, in response to Jerry Lawson’s Comments and post.]  I’m looking forward to seeing how lexBlog sites look and feel in operation. If any already exist, I hope Kevin will point us over.

I wonder what my good friend foolEsq would do after a week like this? . . wine . . (or, any week?)


Update (04-18-04): Check this thread for another good debate between Jerry Lawson and your Humble Editor.  For example:




Jerry Lawson:  Criticizing the practice of lawyers taking personal credit for ghost-written materials, could serve a useful purpose, but please don’t leave the impression that the phenomenon is somehow new and exclusive to blogs. It’s been around a long time.


Your Editor:  Far from saying that lawyer ghost-writing is particularly a weblog problem, my entire point is that it has not previously been a problem with weblogs — which is why I want to help stop that practice before it becomes entrenched or accepted



If you are too busy to actually maintain a weblog, you perhaps shouldn’t try to become a weblog editor-poseur


I’m also pleased to note that 3L Andrew Sinclair has accepted my invitation to join this discussion, with a thoughtful post at his weblog.   Andrew opines, inter alia, that:



“I might not want to see how Hillshire Farms makes their delicious Polish Sausage, but I want to see the ingredients listed on the package, and I definitely want food inspectors in there checking things out. The same is true for web site content. I expect a certain amount of labeling (who wrote what) and I expect checks against misrepresentation of expertise. It doesn’t sound to me like O’Keefe plans to dodge either of these.”


Update (04-22-04): “Delete Key Neg”  I’m pleased to report that Kevin O’Keefe has re-written the lexBlog premium services page, removing a quotation from author Rebecca Blood, which we have noted was taken out of context (leaving out the importance of hands-on weblogging for achieving expertise and authority status), and which seemed to suggest that Ms. Blood endorsed lexBlog’s services. 

Vielen Dank zur GALJ

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 7:17 pm

I just discovered the weblog of the German American Law Journal, which has the following notice in its left-hand margin, with a hyperlink to our post earlier this afternoon:



GALJ does not use ghost-written third-party material. It prefers original weblog content.


What a wonderful idea! (Eine wunderbarische Idee!) . .  !key neg


The weblog is available in English and German versions and its Mission is stated as being “A forum for information sharing in the areas of German and American law, mainly where the two intersect, vary or intrigue.”   Right now, there are several sehr interessant postings on the site, including one on umlaut domain grabbing, and another on abusive cease and desist demands in the internet context.




  • I haven’t studied German in about 35 years, but GALJ might get me to scrape off some of the rust.  Please correct my German usage above, if it needs it.


  • Update (04-18-04): Having just visited the GALJ weblog for the second day, I want to alert all who are interested in internet and hi-tech law (e.g., CyberSpaces,  NetLawBlog, tins/RickKlauLawMeme, John Palfrey, Patently Obviouset al.) to place GALJ on their Favorites list.  In addition to the two topics I cited here yesterday, you can now find a blurb on the futility under German law of Link Disclaimers, and one covering the Supreme Patent Court’s citation to Wiki, when chiding the trademark office for failure to consider current sources in its trademark examinations. 

Vielen Dank zur GALJ

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 7:17 pm

I just discovered the weblog of the German American Law Journal, which has the following notice in its left-hand margin, with a hyperlink to our post earlier this afternoon:



GALJ does not use ghost-written third-party material. It prefers original weblog content.


What a wonderful idea! (Eine wunderbarische Idee!) . .  !key neg


The weblog is available in English and German versions and its Mission is stated as being “A forum for information sharing in the areas of German and American law, mainly where the two intersect, vary or intrigue.”   Right now, there are several sehr interessant postings on the site, including one on umlaut domain grabbing, and another on abusive cease and desist demands in the internet context.




  • I haven’t studied German in about 35 years, but GALJ might get me to scrape off some of the rust.  Please correct my German usage above, if it needs it.


  • Update (04-18-04): Having just visited the GALJ weblog for the second day, I want to alert all who are interested in internet and hi-tech law (e.g., CyberSpaces,  NetLawBlog, tins/RickKlauLawMeme, John Palfrey, Patently Obviouset al.) to place GALJ on their Favorites list.  In addition to the two topics I cited here yesterday, you can now find a blurb on the futility under German law of Link Disclaimers, and one covering the Supreme Patent Court’s citation to Wiki, when chiding the trademark office for failure to consider current sources in its trademark examinations. 

Lawson Not Spooked by Ghosts

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:29 pm

The venerable Jerry Lawson has joined our discussion on ghost-written (“third-party-content-provider”) weblogs — at his netlawblog and in Comments at this site..  I’m always glad to have Jerry’s insights, although — as is often the case when it comes to marketing weblogs — we seem to disagree again.



  • I recommend reading Jerry’s Comment and my reply, which focus on whether the definition of “weblog” is the crux of the problem.  I think the issue is whether the term “weblog” is being used in a misleading way: “To my mind, lexBlog, for example, is offering to create and maintain websites that utilize the very easy-to-use and flexible ‘weblog technology.’  But, if it is going to call the resulting website a weblog, it needs to make clear to lawyers buying the service that their results may differ greatly from the personal, traditional weblog, and let the visitor to the site know clearly and unambiguously when the purported owner-editor is not the actual producer of the content.”

wrong way smN   At NetlawBlog, Jerry asks (1) “Is it unethical for lawyers to use marketing material written by third parties on blogs?” and responds:



The first question is particularly easy: It is not necessarily unethical for lawyers to use materials written by third parties in their marketing efforts. Paper versions of such materials have been around for many years from a variety of vendors, including the American Bar Association. If lawyers can use such material in the form of paper newsletters, then there is no apparent reason why they can’t be used on blogs.


He also asks: “(2) Do blogs actually generate new clients?” and “(3) Are blog-for-lawyer vendors overstating their services’ effectiveness?”   To my mind, his answers don’t get to the crux of the isues.  Instead, they simply suggest that skeptics don’t understand how necessary weblogs will become to lawyer marketing, and then point to how easy weblog technology has made communication.

Here is the Comment that I left on Jerry’s website, in full:



I’m always a little surprised to find out that an ethical question I’ve raised is “particularly easy to answer.” You’ve made it so easy, I guess, by slightly changing the issue to a bland, general question “Is it unethical for lawyers to use marketing material written by third parties on blogs?”


Your wording leaves out a final clause that goes to the core of the ethical problem — something like “without acknowledging that the weblog editor/owner did not find, choose, summarize, analyze, provide the commentary, or otherwise create the content presented on the site.” I think the issue of acknowledging the source of the content poses a far more difficult question (at least if you’re trying to justify the practice).

For example, the YourLaw newsletter for clients that you have linked to at the ABA website clearly indicates that the AMA is the source, and the sample picture of an “imprinted” edition states — right under the masthead and easy to see — that the newsletter is “compliments of” the law firm sending the material.


You don’t seem to have answered question 2 or 3 at all (by, for example, showing a connection between the ability of weblogs to permit easy communication and the way prospective clients actually choose a lawyer), so I look forward to the further thoughts you have promised.


prof yabut small  As usual, we hope you’ll straighten us out!

Lawson Not Spooked by Ghosts

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:29 pm

The venerable Jerry Lawson has joined our discussion on ghost-written (“third-party-content-provider”) weblogs — at his netlawblog and in Comments at this site..  I’m always glad to have Jerry’s insights, although — as is often the case when it comes to marketing weblogs — we seem to disagree again.



  • I recommend reading Jerry’s Comment and my reply, which focus on whether the definition of “weblog” is the crux of the problem.  I think the issue is whether the term “weblog” is being used in a misleading way: “To my mind, lexBlog, for example, is offering to create and maintain websites that utilize the very easy-to-use and flexible ‘weblog technology.’  But, if it is going to call the resulting website a weblog, it needs to make clear to lawyers buying the service that their results may differ greatly from the personal, traditional weblog, and let the visitor to the site know clearly and unambiguously when the purported owner-editor is not the actual producer of the content.”

wrong way smN   At NetlawBlog, Jerry asks (1) “Is it unethical for lawyers to use marketing material written by third parties on blogs?” and responds:



The first question is particularly easy: It is not necessarily unethical for lawyers to use materials written by third parties in their marketing efforts. Paper versions of such materials have been around for many years from a variety of vendors, including the American Bar Association. If lawyers can use such material in the form of paper newsletters, then there is no apparent reason why they can’t be used on blogs.


He also asks: “(2) Do blogs actually generate new clients?” and “(3) Are blog-for-lawyer vendors overstating their services’ effectiveness?”   To my mind, his answers don’t get to the crux of the isues.  Instead, they simply suggest that skeptics don’t understand how necessary weblogs will become to lawyer marketing, and then point to how easy weblog technology has made communication.

Here is the Comment that I left on Jerry’s website, in full:



I’m always a little surprised to find out that an ethical question I’ve raised is “particularly easy to answer.” You’ve made it so easy, I guess, by slightly changing the issue to a bland, general question “Is it unethical for lawyers to use marketing material written by third parties on blogs?”


Your wording leaves out a final clause that goes to the core of the ethical problem — something like “without acknowledging that the weblog editor/owner did not find, choose, summarize, analyze, provide the commentary, or otherwise create the content presented on the site.” I think the issue of acknowledging the source of the content poses a far more difficult question (at least if you’re trying to justify the practice).

For example, the YourLaw newsletter for clients that you have linked to at the ABA website clearly indicates that the AMA is the source, and the sample picture of an “imprinted” edition states — right under the masthead and easy to see — that the newsletter is “compliments of” the law firm sending the material.


You don’t seem to have answered question 2 or 3 at all (by, for example, showing a connection between the ability of weblogs to permit easy communication and the way prospective clients actually choose a lawyer), so I look forward to the further thoughts you have promised.


prof yabut small  As usual, we hope you’ll straighten us out!

blogger Con 2 — Wish I Were There

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:45 am

   (we)bloggerCon 2



Enjoy the conference!    



  • Commune and blossom, 
  • Nurture our community.  
  • Hug a skeptic. 
  • put the “we” back into “blog”  

Leave a few problems for BC3 !


computer weary . . weary in Schenectady

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