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

January 31, 2006

potlawk (don’t you just love cute lawyer puns?)

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:36 pm


Are you calendar-challenged?  You are not alone.  Yesterday, I spent the   deskCalR

entire day knowing it was January 30th, and believing today would be the first

day of February.  As a self-help  measure that I hope will be of assistance

to those similarly afflicted, I found a link today to a rock’n’roll version of

by Jack Hartman. 



tiny check Like many others, Monica Bay, the Common Scold, was saddened

to learn of Wendy Wasserstein‘s death, at 55, from lymphonia. In

response, Monica wrote a truly moving appreciation, titled “Sweet

Dreams, Sweet Twin.”  It concludes, “Yesterday, the lights of Broad-

way dimmed in your memory, but your light will remain fierce in our



tiny check In a New York Times op/ed piece today, “28 Days to Save Darfur,”

Kenneth H. Bacon makes a very good recommendation to the U.S.,

as it starts a month at the head of the UN Security Council:                                                                              

“The United States has a vexing and inconsistent record on

Sudan. Periods of engagement have been followed by longer,

and troubling, periods of inaction. Now, with a month to lead

the Security Council, the United States has a chance to

show the world that we can do more than just talk about



phone old  Ever striving to help lawyers provide Perfect Client Service

Patrick Lamb reminds us that Speed [Is] The Essential Ingredient, when it

comes to answering client email or phone calls.  Lamb says:

Clients call when they do for a reason.  Its their reason and,

most of the time, it is an important reason.  You are the

SERVICE PROVIDER.  It is your job to honor their reasons.


Think minutes, not hours and certainly not days



a coyote call

goes unanswered

evening star

first blossoms

my cell phone

set to vibrate








winter hills

what the truck’s insurance

doesn’t cover




“first blossoms” – Walking the Same Path; Heron’s Nest VI:4 

 “a coyote call” – Acorn No. 6 (Spring 2001)

“first blossoms” – Hermitage

                                                                                                         coyote moon small     


a few more words on eschewing “blawg”

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:23 pm

Here’s a quick summary of my position against calling law-oriented

weblogs “blawgs“.  It now appears at the top of my original piece, the

full-length essay (with updates), “let’s make the term ‘blawg’ obsolete.”

Quick Summary:  Lawyers don’t need a special word to

designate their weblogs.  Weblog technology is not being

used in any special way at law sites.  No other group or

profession has coined a special word for their category

of weblogs.  By insisting on using the trivializing, confusing

and too-cute word “blawg,” lawyers appear to be elitist, clan-

nish, or childish (likely, all three).  Those who agree can help

stop the terminology from becoming a generally-accepted

part of the English language (and spread worldwide), by not

using the term “blawg” and by declaring their choice publically.



Yes, there are many things I would prefer to be writing right now, and

that you would surely prefer to be reading about — so I hope I can

let the subject percolate on its own for awhile.  Before leaving it,

though, I want to say that there was no need for Denise Howell (who 

coined “blawg”) to print, and Dennis Kennedy to second, a not-very

veiled insult of anyone who cares about this topic. The insult was com-

pounded by not even bothering to link to the major posts raising the

issue — mine, and the earlier argument from Kevin O’Keefe, who is not

exactly a minor character on the legal weblog scene.  Not linking, of

course, made it harder for their readers to encounter our arguments

and less likely that search engines would find them. 




On the bright side, Evan Schaeffer was good enough to point to
Kevin O’Keefe’s post and this one (as well as the defense by the Editor

at Blawg Review (“Who let the blawgs out?“), and to risk being unpopular

by reiterating his position on the word “blawg:”

“Not only does the indiscriminate use of the word “blawg”

lead to obscurity, but it gives readers the unintended impres-

sion that the weblog writer is running a private club.”

He received quite a few dissenting Comments, including one from

the well-known Jargon Sheriff, Monica Bay, who stated:

“. . . i don’t mind blawg.


“Why: because it adds meaning to blog. It accurately

describes a specific thing. You see “blawg” and you

know that it is a law-related blog. It defines, it narrows,

and it doesn’t obfuscate.”

My response at Legal Underground was:

Monica, I don’t agree that “blawg” adds significant meaning.

If your audience already knows the proprietor is in the law

community or the topic is law, it adds nothing. If they don’t

know that, just tell them, rather than using a word that does

confuse the uninitiated, and can refer to anything from the 

cultural musing of George Wallace’s “Fool in the Forest,” and

my punditry & poetry weblog, to How Appealing‘s small blurbs,

and the major essays of Judge Posner.

Judge Posner.

Of course, I should have added that “blawg” is also applied to both the  

personal diaries of law students and the topical legal and political

commentary of well-known law professors and public intellectuals. 


Come back to the fold, Dear Scold.

tiny check  Again, let me stress that I am not against

new words, nor trying to dictate what others should



tiny check  Two years ago, I wrote a post pointing out that a

lot of the fun of being in a weblog community was lost

when Comments and Trackbacks are deleted because

the weblog owner disagrees with what was said.  Today,

I’m waiting to see if Dennis Kennedy will ever post the

Comment I left at Between Lawyers two days ago, con-

cerning the use of the word “blawg” in Europe. or allow

the related Trackbacks.


update (11 PM, Jan. 31): Last Friday, Dennis Kennedy pointed to a

post by Edwin Jacobs, at his Law & Justice weblog, saying “Interest-

ingly, I noticed in the post that legal blogs are apparently being called

‘blawgs’ around the world.”  I’m happy to see that Mr. Jacobs has

now clarified his own feelings about the word “blawg,” in Comments

at his own site and at Blawg Review #42.   Here’s what Edwin had

to say: 

“Indeed, I prefer to use the term “blawg” to explain it and when

it appears in the name of some site/blog I am citing.  Otherwise,

I use “lawyer blogs” or “law-related blogs”. The reason is that it

better says what it really is, I think, i.e. a blog related to law or

made by a lawyer in his capacity of a lawyer, e.g. not about his

pet or hobby or whatever.


“I think it’s a simple matter of communication with the target

audience and I don’t make a big issue about it. I don’t care which

word is used, as long as it is clear what person A is communicating

to person B. But I think in communicating with non-lawyers, or with

non-tech savvy lawyers for that matter, it just makes more sense to

talk about a “law related website, lawblog, …” instead of “blawg”.

Frankly, even using the word “blog” is often complicating things.

So, use whatever you want, but “keep it simple” for your target






heavy clouds

the snowplows’ rumble

drifts into town







he changes into play clothes

after school





a fat horse

gallops with the others

a bit behind







swaying branch

the warbler’s song

rises and falls





“a fat horse” & “swaying branch” from

                something to sing about, pawEprint 58 (2003)

“heavy clouds” from HSA Members’ Anthology (2003)

“snowmelt” – from Walking the Same Path 




NY’s Chief Judge wants a statewide public defender system

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:20 pm

The New York Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense, established by Chief

Judge Judith S. Kaye, has unaminously recommended “a single, statewide, state-funded

system for the delivery of indigent defense services.”  Judge Kaye will give the details of

her resulting proposals, in her State of the Judiciary address, next Monday, February 6,

2006.  (Albany Times Union, Jan. 31, 2006) According to Ray Kelly, president of the state’s

Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers:


                                                                                                                    jailbird neg

“They are talking about setting up a statewide public defender office that would

be responsible for handling 60 percent of the state’s cases. They would then set

up a statewide system of assigned counsel to handle any conflicts.”

Last February, this weblog voiced the opinion that “indigent defendants are far more likely

to receive consistently competent representationin a system with fulltime public defenders

(with statewide monitoring and funding) than from situations that rely heavily on assigned

counsel.   (And see, David Feige’s excellent Slate article “Public Offenders,” where he says

that onlya comprehensive public defender system, not one relying heavily on assigned counsel,

will provide adequate service. )  Gideon’s Broken Promise, the ABA 2005 report on indigent

defense, states that national standards for indigent defense favor fulltime public defenders,

whenever the population and caseload can support them.


The New York indigent defense “system” has been organized and funded on the county

level since Gideon v. Wainright.  Many private attorneys count heavily on the assigned

counsel cases they received under this system and fought hard for a rate hike, finally 

passed in 2004, that brought fees long stuck at $25 to $75 per hour to $60 to $95 dollars 

per hour.  It is somewhat ironic, but the impetus for this change is reaction of the sixty-two

counties to the rate hike.  The TU reports that, without additional State funds to help pay

for the hike:



“They opted instead to set up in-house offices, which were not subject to the

higher rates, to save money. the state’s 62 counties have established more than

122 individualized programs to defend the poor, with no cohesion, unified standards

or consistent format, said Ray Kelly….”

Indeed, just last week, the Schenectady Gazette reported that “Eighteen months after it

began operations, the Schenectady County’s Conflict Defender Office has helped save

taxpayers more than $100,000 in outside attorney fees, a review shows. (Jan. 29, 2006,

p. B2).


Don’t be surprised if this trend spreads across the nation, as more and more assigned

counsel (who are in private practice) push for higher fees.  The Bar Advocates in Mass-

achusetts are clearly afraid that the fee hikes they coerced from the Legislature last year

may result in the establishment of public defender offices that will take away work they

consider to be “theirs.”  Thus, they adamantly oppose the hiring of more public defenders.

(see our prior post)  Perhaps, like auto workers, their organized successes may prove to

be their undoing. 




the mountain moon              
gives the blossom thief



     translated by David G. Lanoue



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