Twitter

Orly Taitz

* Twitter ordered to out anti-Semitic users by a French court. France wants to know the names of the anti-Semites so they can surrender to them. [Thomson Reuters News & Insights]

* How are you feeling, Vermont Law School? Right now, you don’t look so good. [Constitutional Daily]

* Now you too can see why AIG decided to not sue the government that bailed them out. [Dealbreaker]

* Seems like these Catholic hospitals aren’t so strident about when life begins when there’s a malpractice lawsuit on the line. [Raw Story]

* Though, according to some Republicans, fetuses might still be evidence — evidence that rape victims should not be allowed to “tamper” with (what a wonderful little party the GOP has going there). [Gawker]

* Orly Taitz: Still Bats**t crazy. [Huffington Post]

* The Maryland State Police have to turn over racial profiling complaints to the NAACP. Man, wouldn’t that have made a good season of The Wire? “The Staties.” Carcetti would be Governor. McNulty would be getting away from it all by tending bar in the D.C. area, only to get sucked back in when he passes a state trooper arresting Bubs for driving while black through Takoma Park. [Baltimore Sun]

Bryan Garner

How old is “bench slap”? Should I put it in Black’s Law Dictionary? How would you define it?

– Legal writing guru Bryan Garner, editor of Black’s Law Dictionary and co-author (with Justice Scalia) of Reading Law (affiliate links), asking on Twitter about a possible addition to Black’s.

(Information about the origins of “benchslap,” after the jump.)

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I was born and raised in Kansas. No big whoop. That state is where I took my first dump, drank my first beer, and felt my first boob. So, y’know, lotta fine memories. It’s where I first embraced my own mediocrity, never rising above third chair in a middle school band that had four trumpets. I have stories in which hay bales feature prominently. The town I was born in, Manhattan, is nicknamed the Little Apple. The more cosmopolitan among us always get a kick out of that last one.

Yesterday, a research attorney for a Kansas Court of Appeals judge was fired for tweeting the sentiment you see in the headline above these words. She was fired for getting all fired up and telling the world what she thought about one of the more irksome characters to pass through Kansas jurisprudence in the past many years. Sarah Peterson Herr, the lady who was fired yesterday for the tweets, learned an invaluable life lesson. Namely, that truth is almost never a defense. That you cannot, and probably should not, speak the truth whenever the mood strikes.

Even if it is about a man who doesn’t know how to spell his own first name…

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(Or, why Phill Kline is a total tool.)”

It’s annoying when people talk about stuff they know little about. (Unless it’s on a law blog, in which case this is assumed.) Take Twitter. Most people I know who’ve decided that Twitter is a waste of time have either never used it or tried it out briefly and given up. It’s particularly annoying when you’re attending a social media CLE and one of the panelists says, “I don’t get Twitter.” I’ve seen this happen more than once and automatically think, “And I’m listening to you why…?”

Twitter is partly to blame for this. The site launched eight years ago with a prompt for users to answer the question, “What are you doing?” This led to the assumption that users would post stuff like they just had a soup and sandwich for lunch. As if any of us would care. Twitter has since updated the question to “What’s happening?” which is a more accurate reflection of the variety of content that’s actually shared on Twitter.

I’m one of those people who created a Twitter account some time ago and promptly forgot about its existence. Then, about two years ago, I decided to try Twitter out in earnest for two reasons: one that was related to work and the other that was much more selfish….

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Twitter for us is like a parliament, but not the kind of parliament that exists in this region. It’s a true parliament, where people from all political sides meet and speak freely.

– Faisal Abdullah, a Saudi Arabian lawyer, explaining to the New York Times how Twitter has created a revolution of sorts in his country.

Alex Macgillivray

No one wants a pen that’s going to rat them out. We all want pens that can be used to write anything, and that will stand up for who we are.

Alexander Macgillivray, general counsel of Twitter, commenting to the New York Times about the social media giant’s legal efforts to protect the privacy of its users.

Out west, we’re in the middle of a gold rush. Programmers, marketers, and young business school grads are flocking to the Bay Area all with big dreams of striking start-up gold.

If you wander down Market Street, you’ll hear people mumbling a mantra: “Internet business. Internet business. Internet business.” Or perhaps, “Please let Google buy me. Please let Google buy me.”

Lawyers don’t usually play too much into this equation, except for the unfortunate in-house counsel tasked with explaining to a start-up’s management why playing beer pong in the conference room during work hours may be an unwise decision.

Or are attorneys much more relevant here than the layman might realize? Yesterday, the New York Times profiled a storied Biglaw firm that’s playing quite a part in the current tech bubble boom. It’s not this firm’s first time at the rodeo, but other firms smell dollars in the air, too, and there’s a battle brewing over who will represent the next Google, Facebook, what have you.

Which Biglaw firm is leading the charge?

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One of the best and worst things about modern social media is the ability to know exactly how many followers or Facebook “likes” you, your friends, your competitors, and your enemies have. It’s useful to be able to rank yourself among other people, but it’s not hard to get overly concerned with boosting your stats. But metrics quickly become muddled when one realizes the mere “following” numbers are not totally transparent.

Case in point: a midsize law firm was publicly called out for some sketchy Tweetness, now the firm is learning the hard way that not all Twitter followers are created equal…

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Tom Wallerstein

Blogging is not something I expected to make part of my weekly routine as a litigator. Yet here I am, writing a post every week that relates in some way to my own experience of having moved “from Biglaw to boutique.” This post marks my 40th post on Above the Law, and for several reasons, I remain grateful and look forward to the opportunity to write a post every week, dead weeks included.

If your goal is to build credibility regarding your expertise in a certain area, then blogging — or tweeting, for that matter — about that topic is a helpful start. Blogging about a certain topic is in some ways the online equivalent of presenting a seminar or CLE course.

Generally, the benefit of presenting a seminar is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, if you give a seminar, each attendee is a prospective client. But more than that, you also help build a reputation as someone knowledgeable about your topic.

Legal blogging works the same way. If you consistently blog about a certain topic, then you have a good platform by which you can establish credibility as an expert in the field. If you tweet and re-tweet about your topic, then someone searching Twitter is more likely to come across your name and assume you have expertise in the area. I know from experience that valuable contacts and potential clients actually do consult Twitter for lawyers to hire….

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Yesterday we covered the internet brouhaha over Progressive Insurance. The insurance company caught a lot of internet flak after comedian Matt Fisher wrote this provocative blog post: My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court. Outrage against Progressive’s apparent provision of a defense to the driver who killed Katie Fisher — even though Katie Fisher was Progressive’s insured, not that driver — went viral over social media (especially after actor Wil Wheaton got involved).

Now Progressive is paying up. The company has reached a settlement with the Fisher family.

We recently heard from Progressive’s PR firm, which sent us a statement on the Fisher case. What does Flo have to say for herself?

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