Media and Journalism

When lawyers hear blogging they think marketing. Raising their visibility. Getting web traffic. Enhancing their reputation.

That’s all good, but blogging by lawyers can mean a heck of a lot more to our society. At the same time, lawyers can realize their business development goals through such blogging.

Take a couple cases. One is blogging on legal stories in the news. The second is blogging on current affairs.

Look at both cases, highlighted by developments in the last couple weeks:

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Ed. note: This is the latest post by Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.

At 30 years old, Ben Shapiro is a Harvard-trained lawyer, founder of Truthrevolt.org, editor-at-large at Breitbart.com, host of the (aptly named) Ben Shapiro Show, and a New York Times bestselling author of five books. He regularly appears as a guest pundit on Fox News and CNN and, just in case that list of accomplishments failed to adequately damage your self-esteem, Ben is also an accomplished violinist. Seriously, that’s enough to make the Tiger Mom herself, Amy Chua, throw up in her mouth.

Ben’s most recent book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration (affiliate link), has created quite a stir, something to which Ben has become accustomed. Over the next few days, we will catch up with Ben and find out more about the merits of the case against the POTUS and about Ben’s place within the legal community.

Now, on to the conversation….

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‘Thank god they didn’t print my f**king name in this story!’

You’re going to take out your phone and you’re going to take my picture, I should break your f**king phone right here! I’m a college student! This is not a political thing where I’m walking away from your questions. F**k you! You are the worst member of society. I don’t need to speak to you. … Have a nice f**king life.

– A student’s curse-laden tirade against members of the press as he walked into an NYU Law School residence hall. Earlier, this genteel fellow was protesting Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout’s run for New York political office.

Elie here. Everybody wants a deal. Everybody wants to “beat the market,” and the internet makes us think that we can. If a baby with an e-Trade app can make money, why can’t you? Buy low, sell high: I’m sure I read that on a bumper sticker somewhere, or maybe in the New Yorker.

Increasingly, the internet thinks it’s identified just the right undervalued asset to snap up at a discount: legal education. The decline in law school applications has been sharp and truly shocking to some. It doesn’t make sense that a law degree would suddenly be much less valuable now than it was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago. The value should rebound. The world still needs lawyers. And if you haven’t noticed, or just disregarded, long-term structural changes in the market for legal services, the fact that every law dean will tell you that the market rebound is right around the corner gives you more confidence in your logical assessment. It’s not like every law dean in the country would lie about the value of their product, right?

We can and will continue to debate the likely future value of a legal education. But can we dispense with the notion that purchasing full-price legal education right now involves “buying low”? You are not buying low, you are buying at historically unprecedented heights. Nobody would put “Buy high, hope to sell at fair market price in three years” on a bumper sticker.

And nobody should be putting that on the internet either….

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As we work on coverage of today’s opinions as I write this, let’s take a quick look back. In advance of this morning’s Supreme Court decisions, there were many thoughtful pieces on how the Court would rule. And most of those thoughtful pieces boasted equally serious and thoughtful headlines.

This was not one of them.

Indeed, this one was so bad, and yet so representative of the state of modern journalism, that it crossed the line into the dumbest headline ever….

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A blog post represents our entry into a conversation. Nothing could be more true when it comes to blogging by lawyers and other professionals.

Dave Winer, an American software developer, entrepreneur and writer who is widely known for his contributions to blogging, established over a decade ago that a blog represents the unedited voice of a person.

Law firms and other organizations don’t edit what their professionals are saying when engaging others face-to-face. Nor should they do so with blog posts.

During last week’s Business Development Institute’s Social Media Summit for Law Firms, I asked the members of the panel I was moderating: do your firms vet or edit lawyers’ blog posts before publishing?

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Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nicole Black. My column, Today’s Tech, will highlight how individual lawyers are using specific technologies in their law practices. More on my column later, but first let me explain who I am and why I’m writing this column.

Above all else, I’m a total geek. My geekery started back in the late 70s when I was in elementary school and my dad brought home a TRS-80 computer. I had to learn how to program in BASIC to get that computer to play Pong. But trust me — it was worth it.

It was in law school in the early 1990s that my geek status was solidified. That’s when I became a diehard Trekkie. Star Trek: the Next Generation was my escape from the stresses of law school, and I watched it religiously. I was fascinated by the technologies used by the characters and the writers’ vision of the future and remember thinking how amazing — and unlikely — it would be if we had just a few of those technologies available in my lifetime….

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Robert the Lawyer (Photo: Christian Johnston)

The dating scene is rough in New York City, especially for lawyers with long lists of demands for potential female suitors to meet. One lawyer was so hard up for a date that he took to the pages of the New York Post’s “Meet Market” to find one. He received top billing from the paper, where he was advertised as an “[a]ttorney seek[ing] a gal who will lay down the law.”

Aww, that’s cute. Let’s help him out.

Meet Robert, a lawyer who’s looking for love — but only in Manhattan or Brooklyn…

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The New York Times lost 80 million home page visitors—half the traffic to the nytimes.com page—in the last two years.

Likewise, traffic to law firm website home pages is down almost 20 percent in the last year. Only 39 percent of law firm traffic now enters through the home page per a study conducted by law firm website developers Great Jakes.

Law firms list their websites in online and offline directories. The home page URL is included on emails, business cards and social media profiles. Search engine optimization tactics are used to draw traffic to the firm’s home page. Website navigation schemas are developed to get users to browse from the home page to industries, areas of the law, about the firm, the people, office locations and articles.

The problem is that people no longer browse pages on a website by going through home pages. They’re coming from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, Google+ and Google searches to visit specific content within the site….

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Look, if I’ve got to get your eyes to my penis to see the problems with the nation, then so be it.

I want a major TV network. I want [a] 90-second spot on a major network during prime time. Yes, if you were from CNN and you said Anderson Cooper will air you tonight, I would pack up my signs and leave. Mission accomplished.

Brian Zulberti, in comments made to a reporter for the Washington Post, a publication that wasn’t worthy enough for him to eat. Zulberti is on day three of his Supreme Court hunger strike to raise awareness of social media firings.

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