Do you think ghost-blogging by lawyers is misleading, unethical?

Do you think ghost-blogging by lawyers is misleading, unethical?

Here is a simple question for you on a Monday morning. It involves ghost blogging, the practice of some lawyers to post blog content on their own blog that was written by someone other than themselves.

 

My question arises from a few sources. It’s related to conversations I had at a Scottsdale conference last week. And it’s connected to an exchange that is evolving in a Linkedin group in which I participate.

Yes, I have my own opinions. But I’d like to hear from others and then we’ll chat more.

Blog evangelism. Check. Professional engagement. Check. Surprising questions. Check, natch.

Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity logoYesterday, I had the privilege to present on the topic of lawyers and blogging to a national law society. As expected, I learned as much as I imparted.

The Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity held their annual conference in Scottsdale, and it was a pleasure to meet with many of its members as I presented on how to manage the multi-channel chaos that faces us (and use a blog to build your practice and secure your image).

You can see the list of rotating workshops here. I’m sure you’ll agree, there was some pretty serious content on offer—plus blogging, by me.

As is my custom, I took a photo of my two workshop audiences as they began to drift into the room.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

Each group was attentive, slept only a little, and had engaging questions at the end.

As occurs at the best conferences, some of their questions took me by surprise. But the surprises are where we presenters learn.

One young attendee asked about the overall professional wisdom of blogging. She related a story about a hiring lawyer who reviewed submitted resumes. When he spotted an applicant who touted their blog, he threw the c.v. in the trash. His reasoning: He didn’t want to hire someone who spent their time blogging.

Another young questioner said that she most often got advice to eliminate as much of her electronic contributions as possible, rather than add to them with a blog. She feared that every online offering, including blog posts, could eventually be sifted and analyzed and held against her by employers and professional colleagues.

Meanwhile, the questions I received from older audience members were more expected ones and had to do with functionality: Do I recommend WordPress over Blogger? How often do I post? Where do I locate public-domain images?

The risk-averseness-ness among younger voices took me by surprise. But these folks face a shifting world, one in which the media portray the online world generally and social media (even blogging) in particular as dotted with pitfalls.

So I responded (as I recall) that our best professional judgment will keep most of us from serious error online, just as it always has in person. A sober—even if occasionally cheeky—assessment of a legal topic is unlikely to cause anyone long-term harm. In fact, people (lawyers and non-lawyers) are more likely to be impressed by what makes your voice unique than they are by how well you recede into the mass of your navy-suited colleagues.

And, I pointed out, a post that assesses a recent Supreme Court case, for instance, is unlikely to generate the kind of professional shame that may accompany a naked drunk tweet. Professional tip: Avoid those.

I added that if your blog is well done, potential employers will spot the bottom-line value as quickly as they spot the book of business you may bring. Each is a professional asset that may be touted and capitalized on.

Finally, I added that if electronically stored evidence has taught us anything, it is that (1) yes, all that data (including your drunk tweet) will “stay out there forever,” but (2) it is amazingly expensive to go back years and years and years to locate a single tweet or a single Facebook post or a single screen-shotted Snapchat. An employer may not care to do that with an associate attorney applicant. I believe the media stories are largely a bunch of scare-tactic B.S. Then again, your mileage may vary.

Aside from the occasional hiring partner who doesn’t have a clue how to read resumes and assess value.

But those audience questions linger in my mind. They lead me to re-assess the part of my presentations that explain the value prospect in blogging. For clearly, the challenges and media scare tactics faced by younger attorneys and law students require a new and different response.

Thank you again to Phi Alpha Delta and its Executive Director Andrew Sagan for the invite. I had a blast—and learned a lot.

This past week, two lawyers contacted me, asking how to be included in the Arizona Attorney Blog Network.

Fortunately, they contacted the right guy. After a few questions and a quick view of what kind of content they were posting, they were listed on our site.

But then I wondered, as I often do: What do those lawyers and law firms get out of the blogging experience? What are their goals for using the medium? And do they feel they’ve been successful?

(I know; I could simply ask them those questions. Well, they really just wanted us to post their content without a lot of jibber-jabber. But maybe next time.)

I admire those lawyers who opt to blog. They not only carve time out of busy practices; they also weather the critique, overt and covert, of others, who insist that blogging is either a time-sink or an ethical minefield—or both.

If you’ve ever wondered about the same issues, and if you think the answer is to abandon blogging, take a look at an interesting post from the U.K. Titled “Are Blogs Any Use to Law Firms?” it examines some of the elements that may make a blog not worth a lawyer’s time.

But if you’re nodding in agreement, you should pause your head-bob to read Joe Reevy’s complete post carefully. No; he’s really not saying that blogging is a waste of time—quite the opposite. Instead, he makes concrete suggestions that may yield more positive results for your legal blog.

If you consider and implement Reevy’s three strategies for success, you will likely see a spike in engagement with your audience. And that—not just increased billings—is what it’s really all about.

I'm guessing your dog doesn't greet clients at your law office. You may want to rethink that. (Meet Rosie, Ruth Carter's companion.)

I’m guessing your dog doesn’t greet clients at your law office. You may want to rethink that. (Meet Rosie, Ruth Carter’s companion.)

If you’re like most lawyers, your office probably did little or nothing to mark National Doughnut Day.

Well, that’s a shame.

If that’s the case, then your office must not be that of Arizona attorney Ruth Carter. Ruth has many attributes and high points in her brief career—including being named an ABA Legal Rebel and being an author of multiple books. And now we can add pastry-sharer.

I mentioned doughnuts, so let’s get to it.

Ruth is aware of the great value in social interactions. And why not: One of her areas of focus is flash-mob law. So a day dedicated to fried-dough goodness seemed to her as good a time as any to gather her myriad circles in her new law offices. A Venn diagram with smiles and Bosa doughnuts at the center, you might say.

Every exuberant, Ruth Carter greets guests at her Doughnut Day open house.

Every exuberant, Ruth Carter greets guests at her Doughnut Day open house.

The June 6 event gave attendees the chance to visit with folks in different but affiliated industries. And we all got to catch up with what Ruth has cooking in her own practice. Smart move, that.

Plus, her wonderful Basset, Rosie, was present, as always.

Thanks, Ruth, for kicking off our June well. Here is the thank-you note I posted after the sweet, sweet event.

Doughnuts = the circle of life (or something, my thank-you note tried to convey).

Doughnuts = the circle of life (or something, my thank-you note tried to convey).

And how do you gather people informally in and around your practice? Doughnuts work, but they’re only one idea. Share yours!

cle snippets teaser logo

This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.

The June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine features the launch of an intriguing monthly collaboration—which offers more ways for attorneys to gain some useful legal knowledge.

It is called a “CLE Snippet” (I didn’t name it), and each one is planned to be a 15-minute video on a topic from the newest Arizona Attorney.

It started in June, and the inaugural video is drawn from our Eye on Ethics column, written by attorney Dave Dodge. He wrote this month on joint defense agreements. You can read his column here.

The online part of the snippet is the video, which this month is a Q&A between Dave and Bar ethics guru Patricia Sallen.

Yes, the Snippet is a CLE Department offering, so there is a cost. But you can go and watch some and decide if this abbreviated form of learning is for you.

cle snippets screen grab sallen dodge - Pat Sallen and Dave Dodge chat about joint defense agreements, in the inaugural CLE Snippet of the State Bar of Arizona.

Pat Sallen and Dave Dodge chat about joint defense agreements, in the inaugural CLE Snippet of the State Bar of Arizona.

We’re putting together our July/August issue now, so I can’t reveal what the next Snippet will be. But I hope you find it helpful and tune in.

A clean desk: Is that what we aspire to? Really?

No, this desk is NOT the winner of a prize for revealing workspaces.

And the winner is …

Wait wait wait! Taking a tip from the Academy Awards, I have to stretch this out for a bit.

Back in January, I offered a prize—a book of legal poetry—to a reader who shared a photo of their desk, messy or not. A description was invited but not required.

You may recall that my desk-psychosis grew deep as my own workspace got lost under piles. And I started to wonder what a clean or dirty desk says about each of us. Like my paper piles, that musing got pretty deep; read it here.)

I am happy to report that my messiness concerns resonated with readers. I heard from a number of folks who reported the state of their workspaces’ messiness levels.

As promised, I randomly selected a winner, and she is … K Royal. Congratulations, K!

K Royal's desk photo won her a book of poetry (though storage bins might have been a better prize!).

K Royal’s desk photo won her a book of poetry (though storage bins might have been a better prize!).

And here is K’s description of her space:

“Your note about a messy desk made me laugh out loud, so although not noteworthy, here is mine. Yes … double monitors, family photos … including my dog, shoe tape dispenser, diamond post it note holder, Dutch slippers, m&m coffee mug, and although you may not be able to see them … shoe phone holders for two cell phones and a Hedwig mug to hold pens.”

She ends with a cheery but noncommittal “May your organization remain exactly what you need it to be!”

By coincidence (yes, it’s a coincidence), I’ve known K from when she was at ASU Law School. She’s gone on to other things (including a stint in Texas), and she’s now Privacy Counsel at Align Technology in San Jose, California.

Privacy Counsel? Hmm, am I allowed to mention that?

In any case, I hope K enjoys “Poetic Justice” as much as I did.

K, send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org with your snail-mail address and I’ll get this posted tout de suite.

K Royal's desk photo won her this book of poetry!

K Royal’s desk photo won her this book of poetry!

Do you have an opinion on a possible dues increase by the State Bar of Arizona?

I will pause here, as I am sure you’re laughing at my simple-minded question.

pause buttonMy point is that everyone seems to have an opinion on the possibility of an increase, which would be the first since 2005.

If you’re curious to hear contrary views on the topic staked out, this Wednesday afternoon will be a good opportunity.

Maricopa County Bar Association MCBA logoAt 5:00 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Maricopa County Bar Association is hosting what it calls an “informational session” (let’s hope that means more light than heat). It is free, but they would prefer that you RSVP here.

I spoke with Allen Kimbrough, the MCBA Executive Director, and I’m happy to report that Arizona Attorney content will be part of the dialogue. Attendees will receive copies of our February issue FAQs, as well as our published pro and con.

The Wednesday event will feature two speakers who were our same authors—State Bar President Whitney Cunningham on the pro side, and Bar Governor Sam Saks taking up the con gauntlet.

I look forward to seeing you there. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me about a possible increase; I may include them in an upcoming blog post.

possible dues increase calculator

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