Media and Journalism

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?

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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]

As we’ve mentioned before, last year was a great year for us here at Above the Law. In 2013, we experienced record traffic and revenue, for which we thank our readers and our advertisers.

We have big plans for 2014. In March, for example, we’re hosting Attorney@Blog, our first-ever convocation of leading legal bloggers. You can get more details — and tickets — over here.

We are also planning a major expansion of our content offerings, by dramatically increasing the ranks of our outside columnists. If you might be interested in writing for our pages, keep reading to find out how to apply….

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Ronan Farrow: a former Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree turned contest judge.

Since 2012, the list-loving folks at Forbes have been publishing “30 Under 30″ compilations for various fields of endeavor. The 2014 lists just came out, and they include, of course, a 30 Under 30 for law and public policy. We noted the news in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs.

Such lists generate great traffic, but they also exhibit a somewhat arbitrary character that can be criticized, even mocked. The New Yorker, for example, took inspiration from Forbes to create 3 Under 3: Entrepreneurs, Intellectuals, Toddlers.

A list of notable legal eagles under 30 presents additional problems. Unlike, say, sports or the arts, where people over 30 might already be “over the hill,” law doesn’t lend itself to super-young prodigies. As Miguel Morales of Forbes points out in introducing the list, “It’s never easy for FORBES staffers to sniff out the 30 best and brightest Millennials making an impact on their fields. In law and public policy, where most people are barely out of law school by 30, let alone blazing trails in their fields, the task sometimes felt farcical.”

Whether it’s farcical or not, we know you want to see the list. Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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Megyn Kelly

* Watch out, Biglaw, the tax man is coming for you. If this bill goes through, it could put a hurting on partners’ pocketbooks at law firms with more than $10 million in gross receipts. [Blog of Legal Times]

* International firms are just discovering Africa, and are moving quickly to set up shops there. Before opening up your firm, take a quick lesson from DLA Piper: Africa is a continent, not a country. [Am Law Daily]

* Juan Monteverde, one of our Lawyer of the Year nominees, received a very public spanking from Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Court of Chancery over outsized attorneys’ fees in a “dubious” shareholder suit. Ouch, that’s really gotta sting. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Oh mon dieu, BU Law set up an exchange program between a law school and a foreign management school. Students might not get jobs out of it, but at least they’ll get to go to Paris. [National Law Journal]

* Politico has put together a fun little list of the ten journalists to watch in 2014, and a few lawyers made the cut, including Glenn Greenwald, Ronan Farrow, and Megyn Kelly. Congratulations, everyone! [Politico]

The word fat, I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes, and sex, and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generations, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?

Jennifer Lawrence. The Oscar-winning actress took time away from discussing her “copious amount of butt plugs” to tell Barbara Walters that the word “fat” should be illegal. At first blush, the quote sounds like something a naïve 23-year-old might say, but her argument that the media should hold itself to a higher standard given its immense power to craft and reinforce the beauty myth for kids — in particular young girls — is much more complex than the sound byte suggests. But that’s easy for a shapeshifter to say.

(Video of J. Law’s interview embedded after the jump….)

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We’ve extensively discussed in these pages the dangers of “reply all.” As you can see by paging through those archives, numerous members of the legal profession — associates, partners, deans of prominent law schools — have embarrassed themselves, often in entertaining fashion, with one little click of a button. They thought they were sending a private email to one individual, but whoops! They actually just hit “reply all.”

It’s great when hilarity ensues upon (mis)use of “reply all,” but it’s more common for it to be just annoying. In our age of overcommunication, people need to think more carefully about whether everyone on the original email needs to receive your reply. Do all the other people invited to the holiday party need to know when you’re arriving and what you’re bringing?

(In fairness, sometimes the sender is to blame. Protip: use “bcc.”)

But sometimes “reply all” can actually be a good thing. No, seriously….

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