Articles Tagged with blogs

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publicity.jpgIn this month’s Web Marketing Today column, Pros and Cons of Online Publicity for Lawyers, I write about the issues that struck me coming out of Perez v. Factory Direct of Secaucus, LLC. There is a significant difference in determining the impact of media attention on a case in the “traditional media” days versus the “blog/social media” era. That is the lesson defendants’ counsel for Ashley Furniture learned when filing suit against the plaintiffs’ law firm for defamation–stemming from online publicity.

My article breaks down the impact and pros/cons that all parties involved–plaintiff, defendant, and counsel for both sides–in measuring how the World Wide Web might affect not only the outcome of a case, but the long-term consequences that can be far more detrimental than whether you won, lost or settled.

As I note, I would never have heard about what I’d suggest is a relatively common “employee lawsuit against an employer for wrongful termination”-type filing if not for the third party action taken by one law firm against the other for what amounts to unwanted publicity on the case.

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hunter_lipton_image.jpgIt seems like I’ve been writing and speaking on Hunter v. Virginia State Bar for years! And that is because I have. But, alas, now it has come to a close with the United States Supreme Court once again deciding not to hear a case regarding attorney advertising regulation. One of these days, though!

With “cert. denied” just last month, I thought it was a good time to review the case in my monthly Web Marketing Today piece. I found the case fascinating on a number of fronts. There were components in which I found myself agreeing in part with both sides. While I did not always agree with Horace Hunter, I found his no-holds-barred desire to stand on principle–despite enormous time and cost–valiant. He believed that he had a right to free speech, and he also felt that the Bar was picking on the little guy. As I note in the piece, most attorneys and law firms would have simply capitulated to the original correspondence from the state bar. Not here. Hunter never backed down and openly spoke about the matter through years of litigation. You can argue that both sides won something.

On the flip side, I did agree with the Virginia Bar in viewing the blog through the lens of advertising regulations, simply because I did not think this particular state’s rules really hampered Hunter’s blog and content. In some states, I might not feel as strongly toward that point of view. But the reality is that state bars are simply not equipped to start parsing the gray areas that exist in today’s world of Internet communication–changing rapidly. Way too rapidly for the Rules of Professional Conduct to keep pace with the nuances.

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blog_icon1.jpgOn February 28th, the Virginia Supreme Court held that a disclaimer was required under the state’s advertising rules when posting results on a website. This is the latest outcome in the seemingly never-ending battle between Horace Hunter and the Virginia State Bar. This has been a widely watched case among ethics attorneys like myself that follow the bouncing ball of state bar advertising restrictions and first amendment scholars looking at the “free speech” argument. Is the next stop the U.S. Supreme Court?

Last April (2012), I was part of an ABA CLE panel that discussed “Is Your Legal Blog Compliant? Ethical considerations in the wake of Hunter v. Virginia State Bar.” The panel included Mr. Hunter, myself, employment law blogger Molly DiBianca and noted Virginia ethics attorney Tom Spahn. We discussed and debated the many issues in the case. It is effectively a case of first impression in the law blogosphere. That was prior to the case heading up the ladder to the state supreme court. Read more about the program in Your ABA’s e-news–Blogs can be legal minefields.

Blogs have been around since the late 1990s, yet this cyberspace battle in Virginia is the first real challenge by a state bar to the often cloudy areas of interpretation. Is a blog advertising, marketing, editorial, personal, or business? Where does the First Amendment end and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct begin? Should a state bar look at a blog as marketing or something else?

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blog_image.jpgThis month’s Web Marketing Today column discusses the good, bad and ugly in the world of law firm blogging. As the bumper sticker says, “If you can read this, you must be on my blog.” Anyway, that in itself highlights one valuable element of blogging–in cross-promoting other marketing and publishing efforts.

I’ve selected successful blogs in the small, medium and large law firm categories to highlight approaches and styles–from Silverberg Zalantis, Young Conaway and Reed Smith. In the world of blogs, they are all operating on an even playing field.

One of the ways I know that blogging is still “where it’s at” in cyberspace is simply following the steps of my long-time web collaborator Pavel Ushakov. Between Pavel and Justia’s Tim Stanley, much of the direction and advice I give myself (and others) comes from following their paths. Tim practically shamed me into getting back on the blog bandwagon. Pavel played a pivotal role in my original transformation from “marketing attorney” to an “internet marketing attorney.” We worked together on original website projects for law firms like Morgan Lewis and Simpson Thacher back in the 90s. Remember the 90s man? He was then instrumental in creating the Internet Marketing Attorney website, IMA reviews and Nifty Fifty awards for me. And in developing my original business website and blog. Of course, as one of the true web pioneers, he has bigger fish to fry than helping me–but always responds quickly whenever I shout out for help. But his focus now is on blog development and consulting with–with “little” clients like Adobe, Time Magazine and the Harvard Business School. But he is one of the go-to guys for blogging, and knowing what will come next.