Media and Journalism

A week ago, someone called me out on Twitter for a perceived grammatical error in one of my posts. That person told me to “get it together.” I corrected that person on the rule, but my would-be grammar adviser didn’t like it one bit. That person responded in true ATL commenter style by retorting, “Maybe that [rule] will help you pass the bar exam.”

That person was another woman. I reminded her that she’d been using her real name while making her snide remarks, and she immediately deleted her Twitter account. She’d apparently forgotten that she wasn’t using her anonymous commenting handle, and didn’t want to be associated with what she’d said.

Perhaps that’s why our commenters feel like they have free rein to say whatever they want, no matter how racist, how sexist, or how anti-gay it may be — they can disclaim ownership, because in the majority of cases, they’re not using their real names. It’s much easier for lawyers and law students to be vile when they don’t have to associate themselves with what their online personalities have said in real life.

That said, it’s difficult being a minority online, whether that word is used to describe race, gender, or sexual orientation. If you’re interested in learning how to engage your commenters, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference, where I will moderate a panel on racism, sexism, and homophobia in online commenting platforms, featuring the following distinguished panelists:

This panel will explore the various strategies and best practices (along with their intellectual underpinnings) available to legal bloggers in managing the dark side of the internet: the “trolls” who engage in offensive and hateful (albeit protected) speech.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. Up to six ethics CLE credits will be available. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Last month, Grantland published a story that led to great harrumphing across much of the internet. Titled “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” it profiled a golf-club inventor whose big secret — that she was transgender — was revealed slowly, teased until the end like a mystery novel. The eponymous inventor’s death was treated as a mere plot point, puzzled over like everything else about the woman’s life. If you haven’t read the piece yet, I heartily encourage you to do so. I’ll wait.

This weekend, the New York Times published a story that will likely lead to very little harrumphing. This story, the profile of a transgender attorney who represents terror suspects, was written not as thrill-packed pulp fiction, but rather as the sober account of a ballsy attorney who deserves our approbation. If you’ll excuse that last sentence’s shameful bit of wordplay clowning, I promise you the rest of this post will be wholly serious. Because the New York Times story is important both for what it says about a life lived honestly and for what it says about the progress we’ve made in accepting such honesty.

So now, let us name all the interesting things about attorney Zoë J. Dolan. I mean, besides the umlaut….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Trans-Action Attorney”

Then you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference. One of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment litigators, Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon, will deliver opening remarks. And then I will moderate a panel on free speech online, featuring the following distinguished panelists:

The panel will discuss emerging free speech issues and offer practical advice on how to avoid legal pitfalls online. If you’re a media lawyer, a journalist, a blogger, or just someone interested in these topics, you should definitely attend.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. The conference includes lunch and CLE credits (including coveted ethics credits). We hope to see you on March 14!

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

David Boies: just one great lawyer among many at Boies Schiller.

What comes to mind at the mention of Boies, Schiller & Flexner? Perhaps the legendary named partners — David Boies, Jonathan Schiller, and Donald Flexner — or perhaps the legendary bonuses, which last year went as high as $300,000.

But there’s much more to the firm than that. Even though BSF is most famous for its litigation work, it has a sizable and well-regarded corporate practice, for example. And even though its biggest presence is in the state of New York, with offices in Albany, Armonk, and New York City, the firm has several other outposts — including a growing and high-powered presence in Washington, D.C.

Boies Schiller has been adding some impressive new talent to its D.C. outpost. Last week, the firm welcomed a leading litigatrix. Let’s learn more about her, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Boies Schiller Expands In D.C. By Hiring Young Legal Superstars”

Ed. note: Please welcome Jenny M. Brandt, who will be covering celebrities and the law. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.

As an attorney, I have noticed how obsessed other attorneys are with boxing in our identities. Either you’re a plaintiff’s attorney or a defense attorney. A prosecutor or a public defender. A Biglaw sell out or a public interest bleeding heart. Everything about you can be learned from which area of law you pursued. To some degree, these stereotypes ring true. I could never be a prosecutor, and there are few I’d like to have a drink with. They are a certain kind of person. But, in many ways, these boxes restrict us from living life free to enjoy all that is out there for consumption.

I view the aversion to celebrity gossip among attorneys as a byproduct of this black and white thinking. What does it say about you if you actually care that a criminal defense attorney allegedly slept with Lamar Odom, a Kardashian husband? Attorneys like to sound smart and believe the same about themselves. Consuming celebrity gossip with the masses means that you are a commoner, lowbrow, lacking in sophistication, or just plain dumb. Right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “On The Merits Of Celebrity Legal Gossip”

The other panels at our inaugural Attorney@Blog conference deal with important issues. Sexism! First Amendment! And don’t forget, we’re getting you six ETHICS credits of CLE in a non-boring format.

My panel isn’t about such highfalutin’ technical or social issues. My panel is about something near and dear to the hearts of most people who either blog professionally or do it as a hobby. My panel is about navel-gazing. Because every legal blogger has a little Fredo Corleone in them: “I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!” Without that little sin of vanity, we’d all be representing clients or teaching classes or doing whatever the hell I’d be doing if I had real skills, quietly. Unobtrusively.

Instead, legal bloggers go out there and try to make an impact. We try to move the conversation or effect change in some way.

Is it working? Is anybody freaking listening? Should we be concerned about “bad” legal bloggers who make everybody dumber one hashtag at a time? I’m not the right person to answer any of these questions, but here’s the panel of smart people who will think through this with me:

  • Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency: Nobody has tried to use the power of blogging to impact the legal world quite like Kyle. Is it working? Are there best practices that he can share? And how does a blogging crusader actually pay bills and eat?
  • Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal: Karen is who I’d like to be if I grew up. She’s a real reporter. A journalist. She can talk not only about the impact of blogging on actual decision makers, she can also speak to the impact of blogging on the quality of legal reporting. Are we helping, or are we screwing things up for everybody?
  • Joshua Peck of Duane Morris: Peck is the founder of Law Firm Media Professionals. Basically, when bloggers throw a rock at a Biglaw window, Peck is one of the guys who has to replace the glass. If bloggers are making an impact, Peck can tell us how to make a bigger one.

I think it should be a fun conversation for current bloggers interested in how their work is being perceived, and for prospective bloggers who are trying to figure out if there’s a point to taking the time to blog. And, again, you get CLE for listening.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Now that we’ve been doing it for a couple of days, we thought we’d tell you what we’re doing.

ATL Redline is a new project for Breaking Media that will represent Above the Law’s presence on Kinja, Gawker Media’s popular publishing platform. Above the Law has established itself as the go-to place for lawyers and law students who want an inside look at the practice of law and the lives of attorneys. With Redline, we’re going to draw on that knowledge to highlight the law behind today’s news for a broader audience. Whether it’s the latest celebrity scandal or the next outrageous campaign speech, there’s usually a law or lawyer somewhere influencing what is happening. Redline will cut out the jargon, so you won’t need a law degree to have an informed opinion and participate in the debate.

Veteran Above the Law editor Elie Mystal will be heading up this effort. Elie is a former associate at Debevoise & Plimpton and a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He’s also quite used to vibrant conversations with readers and commenters, so have at him. That being said, we wouldn’t want to hang Elie out to dry alone, so David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, Joe Patrice, and the rest of the ATL team will also be posting on Redline and joining in our broad discussion of law and policy.

We are very excited to collaborate with Gawker Media on ATL Redline and look forward to taking advantage of all the great tools Kinja offers to spur discussion and debate around the web.

Thank you for your support,

John Lerner
CEO, Breaking Media

Not what the image of lawyers that the California Supreme Court wants to support.

A former journalist turned law school graduate went to the state of California and asked to be admitted to the practice of law.

California said no.

The problem was his practice of “making up stories” for a few years while working at The New Republic.

A well-documented history of lying is not a great testament to the moral fitness of a prospective lawyer, but does this particular transgression really justify denying Stephen Glass’s application?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stephen Glass Isn’t A Lawyer Just Because Of The Whole ‘Serial Lying’ Thing”

Fat. Stupid. Raging feminist. Bitch. Moron. K*ke. Slut. Woman-hater. Skank. Assh*le. C*nt. Whore.

“You have plenty of assets, like that fat milky white ass. I will tear that shit up, destroy it, every position until you can’t walk or feel the inside of your anus.”

These are just some of the colorful terms that have been used to describe me, and one of the messages publicly posted about me, in the nearly four years that I’ve written both pseudonymously and under my real name here at Above the Law. Our comments are hidden for our readers’ protection because they can be quite vile, but as editors, we have to look at them, and sometimes moderate them.

It’s difficult being a minority online, whether that word is used to describe race, gender, or sexual orientation. If you’re interested in learning how to engage your commenters, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference, where I will moderate a panel on racism, sexism, and homophobia in online commenting platforms, featuring the following distinguished panelists:

This panel will explore the various strategies and best practices (along with their intellectual underpinnings) available to legal bloggers in managing the dark side of the internet: the “trolls” who engage in offensive and hateful (albeit protected) speech.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. CLE credit will be available, and early bird pricing remains in effect until February 1. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

The First Amendment’s wording remains the same, but the world of free speech online is constantly changing. Last week, the Ninth Circuit issued an important new opinion about the First Amendment protections applicable to bloggers.

If you’re interested in free speech, the First Amendment, or media law, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference. One of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment litigators, Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon, will deliver opening remarks. And then I will moderate a panel on free speech online, featuring the following distinguished panelists:

The panel will discuss emerging free speech issues and offer practical advice on how to avoid legal pitfalls online. If you’re a media lawyer, a journalist, a blogger, or just someone interested in these topics, you should definitely attend.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. CLE credit will be available, and early bird pricing remains in effect until February 1. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

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