Putting It Out There – In The Best Possible Way

NicoleBlackMany of my readers are surely familiar with shining stars in the legal/tech online domain. So, I am sure that many recognize the name Nicole Black. Nicole is an attorney practicing in the Rochester, New York area whose reach extends far beyond the city limits. Nicole’s legal background is heavily steeped in criminal defense, civil litigation and appeals work, but she is probably best known for her blogging, writing, speaking and fresh foresight regarding legal technology and the future of the profession.

If you know Nicole and would like to know her better or simply would like to get to know Nicole, check out her auto-biographical post at one of her blogs, Sui Generis. In true tech form, Nicole explains that she is writing the piece to forge another link in her on-line chain and strengthen her presence in the search engine results. But us readers secure the added benefit of learning more about a bright, agile attorney and writer who is helping to push legal practice forward on a daily basis.

Finally, thought I would share a little known fact: not quite two years ago, I began considering how to expand my own practice and market my efforts to become a writer and researcher on my own terms. My search lead me to Nicole’s web site, nicoleblackesq.com. Her simple landing page, black background with blue and white letters, struck me, particularly the words “lawyer, writer, blogger.” Could you really be all three? I still keep the vision of her start page in mind as I continue to learn and grow in the on-line world. Thanks, Nicole, for helping me start out on my own adventure!

Nicole Black and Carolyn Elefant, another on-line luminary and champion of the solo practitioner, currently are working on a book addressing social media for lawyers. Stay tuned for more information about the book. It is sure to be well-written and informative!

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Is LinkedIn Getting All Social-y?

linkedinIf you hang out on LinkedIn, you may have noticed the dusty status box on your profile page. If you hang out on-line, you know what a status box is for. My sense of the LinkedIn status box is that it has been a cute little novelty on the site: some take advantage of it from time to time but most seem to ignore its existence. Sort of like ignoring the unpacked boxes from your move two years ago.

That may all change overnight. LinkedIn has announced integration of its cute little status boxes with Twitter’s power status updating service. Over the next 24 hours, LinkedIn will roll out to users the ability to automatically update Twitter with LinkedIn status updates and vice versa, with the use of a hashtag, much like the #fb tag. The LinkedIn tag is #in or li.

A nice feature is that you will be able to set up the cross-posting to send all or selected tweets. Not sure my business contacts want to hear what I had for breakfast yesterday. LinkedIn is also permitting users to show their tweet stream on their LinkedIn profile as well.

Facebook integration also may be in LinkedIn’s future, as well as URL shortening of LinkedIn updates to fit within the infamous 140 character Twitter limit (that makes sense).

I think this is the right move for LinkedIn. My historical complaint regarding the site is that it is, well, boring. There is plenty of business in the questions and group commentary, but the flow in those areas is slow, too slow for today’s real time world. Furthermore, there is little opportunity on LinkedIn to develop your “personality”. The modern Web in general and social networking in particular demand that the experience be fun, ever-changing and informative. Twitter integration goes far towards improving LinkedIn’s deficiencies in this regard.

Will you integrate your Twitter stream with your LinkedIn updates? Enquiring minds want to know!

Locating The Law

Locating The LawAre you looking for it? Well, here it is. The Public Access to Legal Information Committee in conjunction with the Southern California Association of Law Libraries has just released its newly-revised, Fifth Edition of “Locating The Law”, a handbook of resources for non-lawyers. The contents include:

  • Cover
  • Preface by Ruth Hill
  • Acknowledgments by June Kim
  • Chapter 1: Introduction by Karla Castetter
  • Chapter 2: How to Read a Legal Citation by David McFadden
  • Chapter 3: Basic Legal Research Techniques by Joan Allen-Hart
  • Chapter 4: Legal Reference vs. Legal Advice by Joan Allen-Hart
  • Chapter 5: California Law by Laura A. Cadra
  • Chapter 6: Bibliography of California Resources by Patrick Meyer
  • Chapter 7: Federal Law by Karla Castetter
  • Chapter 8: Bibliography of Federal Law Resources by June Kim
  • Chapter 9: Assisting Self-Represented Litigants by Laura A. Cadra & June Kim
  • Chapter 10: Bibliography of Self-Help Resources by Lisa Schultz
  • Chapter 11: Availability, Accessibility and Maintenance of Legal Collections by Joan Allen-Hart
  • Chapter 12: Major Law Publishers by Jennifer Lentz
  • Appendix A: Glossary of Legal Terms by June Kim
  • Appendix B: California County Law Libraries by Esther Eastman
  • Appendix C: California Law Schools by Karla Castetter

    You can download the entire PDF here. While California-focused, it includes info of interest that crosses state lines.

Primary Legal Materials, FREE & On-Line. It’s About Time

Carl Malamud at O’Reilly Radar reports on Law.Gov, “America’s Open Source Operating System”. As st forth in the opening paragraph:

Public.Resource.Org is very pleased to announce that we’re going to be working with a distinguished group of colleagues from across the country to create a solid business plan, technical specs, and enabling legislation for the federal government to create Law.Gov. We envision Law.Gov as a distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository of all primary legal materials in the United States. More details on the effort are available on our Law.Gov page.

Primary legal materials include case law and statutes.

For years, easy access to these materials has been tied up in paid gateways tended by private publishing houses. This has NEVER made sense to me. Why can’t we have a system offering superior access to this free content? The powers behind Law.Gov apparently agree and are working towards that end.  Let the money makers focus on their secondary materials and expert commentary. Case law and statutory law accessible and on-line are necessary components of an open government, a result we all should embrace.

Primary Legal Materials, FREE & On-Line. It's About Time

Carl Malamud at O’Reilly Radar reports on Law.Gov, “America’s Open Source Operating System”. As st forth in the opening paragraph:

Public.Resource.Org is very pleased to announce that we’re going to be working with a distinguished group of colleagues from across the country to create a solid business plan, technical specs, and enabling legislation for the federal government to create Law.Gov. We envision Law.Gov as a distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository of all primary legal materials in the United States. More details on the effort are available on our Law.Gov page.

Primary legal materials include case law and statutes.

For years, easy access to these materials has been tied up in paid gateways tended by private publishing houses. This has NEVER made sense to me. Why can’t we have a system offering superior access to this free content? The powers behind Law.Gov apparently agree and are working towards that end.  Let the money makers focus on their secondary materials and expert commentary. Case law and statutory law accessible and on-line are necessary components of an open government, a result we all should embrace.

Using Common Sense On-Line

It has become apparent to me that this week is going to be dubbed the “Mind Your P’s & Q’s” week (punctuation and quotations, perhaps?) on the Studio. My last post was about challenging new methods of securing client referrals on-line and taking care to mind the reach of our archaic ethical rules. This post discusses a more personal subject: knowing when to employ the TMI filter or risk running afoul of the ethical rules.

It seems strange to me that professionals of any sort, and lawyers in particular, would not grasp what is appropriate and what is inappropriate to put down, in writing, in public, regarding themselves, their clients, or any other sensitive matters, for that matter. Are lawyers driven to communicate against their better judgment because of the medium? Or is it just another manifestation for the generally-accepted proposition that lawyers love to hear themselves talk and an erroneous belief that what they might consider to be private and protected might not actually be so?

Please let me clarify: there is nothing at all wrong with loving to hear oneself talk, particularly if the talk is valuable and if it contributes to the greater community of peers and potential clients. In fact, that is the beauty of on-line interconnectedness: we can reach and share rich content with a community of much larger scope than generally available via real world interactions, unless you are one of those guys wearing a sign near Times Square.  

However, if you are a professional seeking to enhance your practice through on-line endeavors, you should keep in mind the real world prohibitions against and implications of sharing information against your interest or the interests of your client. And then multiply those prohibitions times, oh, about, 3 – 5 decimal places.

The inspiration for this post comes from an ABA Journal blurb about blogging lawyers called to task for legal and ethical problems. I actually found myself alternating between scratching my head and chuckling about the problems lawyers have faced. There are lawsuits against lawyers who thought they were anonymously charging other lawyers with engaging in conspiracy, and firings and ethical probes of criminal lawyers who included “thinly veiled” references to clients and sharp criticisms of judges in blog posts. Lawyers who write contemporaneous blog posts about their experiences on a jury and lawyers who seek continuances for socially acceptable reasons, when their Facebook page shows otherwise (and the presiding judge is a FB friend!!!). 

Even judges can find themselves in hot water – remember Chief Judge Alex Kozinsky from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who found himself explaining some off-color humor residing on a family  web server intended to be private (but apparently, not so much)?

The New York Times article cited in the ABA Journal article highlights these examples and provides interesting food for thought. Lawyers are under the same strict guidelines regarding professional conduct and client confidences on-line as they are in real life. These ethical rules collide with the “free-wheeling” environment of the Internet. Legal ethics scholars suggest that conflicts between ethical rules and on-line behavior will only increase as more youngsters reared in the age of Facebook complete law school and enter the profession.

I am not so naiive to think that similar breaches of confidence and perfidious-ness (is it a word? ;)) don’t happen in the real world. They most certainly do. However, there are two extra-hazardous facts that come into play on-line: the utterer’s mistaken sense that only his or her intended listeners are noticing and hearing the message; and, easy searchability. While nothing in this life is truly permanent, written words indexed and searchable on-line certainly echo much longer than their verbal counterparts.

Social networking should be social. There is no question in my mind that a stronger connection is achieved on-line if you show a little personality, a little of your personal background , along with that sense of the lean, mean, legal machine,  that you are, of course.  But lawyers, please use common sense: personality and defamatory criticisms are not coextensive. And remember, if you tell your Facebook friend, the judge, that you need more time to prepare for trial because of a funeral in the family, don’t be updating your Facebook page with drunken party pictures on days of the wake and funeral.

This might be an example where ethical rules should not be changed to accomodate our Brave New World.

Update: I jumped back in over here to add another link to a law.com article about how tweeting can land you in hot water. It’s public, people. Very, very public.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Internet, In Statistical Form

Flipping the Charts 1
Image by photobunny via Flickr

Shirl Kennedy and ResourceShelf have compiled a GREAT list of resources for statistics on all things Internet, including participation in social networks and trends. While I encourage you to hit the jump to their site, I have copied their list and comments below for Studio reader convenience. There is sure to be some information of value to your on-line networking and ecommerce interests buried in these resources. Happy Hunting!

  • ClickZ Stats (”News and expert advice for the digital marketer”)

“Trends & statistics: the Web’s richest source”

Stats on social networks are important, but I’m going to need your help in creating a community archive, can you submit stats as you find them? I’m often asked, “What are the usage numbers for X social network” and I’ve received considerable traffic on my very old post (way back in Jan 08) of MySpace and Facebook stats, even months later. Decision makers, press, media, and users are hungry for numbers, so I’ll start to aggregate them as I see them.

comScore is a global leader in measuring the digital world and the preferred source of digital marketing intelligence.

The company also publishes a blog that is statistics-rich.

Welcome to Domain Tools’s daily domain statistics page. Our stats show how many domains are currently registered and how many domains used to be registered but are now deleted.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Internet site devoted exclusively to ‘Measuring the Electronic Economy.’ This site features recent and upcoming releases, information on methodology, and background papers.

The internet has permeated everything from buying to banking to bonking. So how big is it?

As a United Nations agency, the ITU has an obligation to identify, define, and produce statistics covering its sector – the telecommunication/ICT sector.

Browse a list of our latest reports, look through out infographic highlights, and check out our freqently updated trend data.

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