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. 

4 Comments

  1. See my comment this morning at Bag and Bagggage about the “IEC Team” attribution:

    http://rateyourmusic.com/yaccs/commentsn/blog_id=90000002214_and_blog_entry_id=1082068017

    If the end result is nutritious and palatable, does the fact that sausage-making may be ugly make all that much difference?

    If lawyers are publishing accurate information that helps people understand their legal rights, and standing by the accuracy of that information, then how much should the manner in which the underlying research and writing was accomplished matter?

    It’s not unusual today for lawyers in urban areas to bill $300 an hour or more. It’s much more efficient to have such a lawyer review material written by law clerks, or a service like Kevin’s than it is for the lawyer to draft all the material from scratch.

    Should such material be attributed to the law firm (analogous to “IEC Team” in example cited), or would it be OK to attribute it to the individual lawyer who reviewed it, possibly edited it, and approved it for publication?

    To my mind, there is no problem whatsoever with the former practice.

    I think the latter practice could raise difficult ethical issues, not just “legal ethics,” but “ethics” generally.

    HOWEVER, please note that there is nothing “blog specific” about the latter issues. My experience leads me to believe that many, probably most of the published paper articles we see attributed to senior partners were researched and written all or mostly by associates or law clerks.

    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.

    Comment by Jerry Lawson — April 18, 2004 @ 11:05 am

  2. See my comment this morning at Bag and Bagggage about the “IEC Team” attribution:

    http://rateyourmusic.com/yaccs/commentsn/blog_id=90000002214_and_blog_entry_id=1082068017

    If the end result is nutritious and palatable, does the fact that sausage-making may be ugly make all that much difference?

    If lawyers are publishing accurate information that helps people understand their legal rights, and standing by the accuracy of that information, then how much should the manner in which the underlying research and writing was accomplished matter?

    It’s not unusual today for lawyers in urban areas to bill $300 an hour or more. It’s much more efficient to have such a lawyer review material written by law clerks, or a service like Kevin’s than it is for the lawyer to draft all the material from scratch.

    Should such material be attributed to the law firm (analogous to “IEC Team” in example cited), or would it be OK to attribute it to the individual lawyer who reviewed it, possibly edited it, and approved it for publication?

    To my mind, there is no problem whatsoever with the former practice.

    I think the latter practice could raise difficult ethical issues, not just “legal ethics,” but “ethics” generally.

    HOWEVER, please note that there is nothing “blog specific” about the latter issues. My experience leads me to believe that many, probably most of the published paper articles we see attributed to senior partners were researched and written all or mostly by associates or law clerks.

    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.

    Comment by Jerry Lawson — April 18, 2004 @ 11:05 am

  3. Thanks again for sharing your perspective, Jerry.   Here are my quick replies:

    it seems to me that packaged weblogs and third-party-provided content — especially if generalized to be relevant across many jurisdictions — will be far less nuitricious and tastey than a well-done, hands-on weblog created and maintained by the owner-editor, whose sweat and blood and personality are ever-present, and who is more likely to use the best ingredients.
    for visitors, the attraction of weblogs as content has been the personal touch 
    if you are too busy to actually maintain a weblog, you perhaps shouldn’t try to become a weblog editor poseur
    the lawyer community is well aware that many projects are group efforts, but the general public is not aware
    legal articles and briefs, etc. almost always include the names of other contributors right on the front page, even if a major partner or government poobah gets top billing; when I want to know who actually wrote a brief, I look down the list — take it from one who wrote government briefs that went to the Supreme Court (you needed an elevator to get down to my name!)
    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

    Comment by David Giacalone — April 18, 2004 @ 12:33 pm

  4. Thanks again for sharing your perspective, Jerry.   Here are my quick replies:

    it seems to me that packaged weblogs and third-party-provided content — especially if generalized to be relevant across many jurisdictions — will be far less nuitricious and tastey than a well-done, hands-on weblog created and maintained by the owner-editor, whose sweat and blood and personality are ever-present, and who is more likely to use the best ingredients.
    for visitors, the attraction of weblogs as content has been the personal touch 
    if you are too busy to actually maintain a weblog, you perhaps shouldn’t try to become a weblog editor poseur
    the lawyer community is well aware that many projects are group efforts, but the general public is not aware
    legal articles and briefs, etc. almost always include the names of other contributors right on the front page, even if a major partner or government poobah gets top billing; when I want to know who actually wrote a brief, I look down the list — take it from one who wrote government briefs that went to the Supreme Court (you needed an elevator to get down to my name!)
    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

    Comment by David Giacalone — April 18, 2004 @ 12:33 pm

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