The Blogsphere: Growth, Acceptance, Readership

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Everyone is forwarding that Dianna Abdala/William Korman email exchange back and forth, the one with the subject line Lawyers Behaving Badly. I saw it first when someone posted it on the Judged message boards. It's true that Abdala rejected Korman's job offer in an unprofessional manner, but she shouldn't feel so bad now that her email has been forwarded to the entire American legal community. I once turned down a job offer by setting fire to a guy's office. In retrospect, I didn't need to use that much butane.

A cause for celebration came last week with the return of Ben Cowgill of the Legal Ethics Blog. Last year, the Kentucky Lawyer Advertising Commission ruled that lawyers' blogs count as advertisements, which require a $50 fee per ad and a $50 fee for every change to the advertisement. Cowgill's blog was essentially shut down by the ruling. He has now triumphantly returned with a new name for his site, Ben Cowgill on Legal Ethics.

The Silicon Valley Media Blog wrote up an excellent summary of the RIAA's recent government filing, which states that copying a CD you purchased onto your computer constitutes copyright infringement. This flies in the face of the RIAA's previous statements, including the oral arguments it presented before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. So here's a word to the wise, throw your iPod in the trash compactor before RIAA goons drag you off to Guantanamo Bay.

Are law firm associates factory workers? Ron Baker, guest blogger at the [non]billable hour, laid out a convincing set of points on how law firms foster a factory worker mentality. By contrast, 'knowledge workers' are granted autonomy, trusted to exercise their judgment, and given the freedom to be creative, according to the blog post. While the traditional law firm hierarchy promotes automatous behavior, Baker posits that the performance of knowledge workers is much more difficult to evaluate.

In a somewhat-related law blog post, Adam Smith, Esq., the law firm economics blog, offered a thorough analysis of corporate and law firm culture and the benefits of collaboration over competition among employees. Competition, says Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq., encourages high turnover and slow incremental growth, while collaboration puts forth refined strategies, innovative techniques, and an emphasis on core values.

In our previous installment of Inside Legal Blogs and Chat Boards, or The Fiendish Curse of Count Blogula, as I am now exclusively referring to it, we linked to a report from LexBlog about the blogosphere's staggering growth as of late. Though the number of blogs has sharply increased, blog readership has leveled off, according to a Gallup poll. Dave Hoffman at Concurring Opinions shows that although general readership has stagnated, readership on the superblogs, including the Volokh Conspiracy, continues to grow. Hoffman speculates this may lead to a blogopoly, whereby the major blogs will come to control a vast network of blogs.

Though blog readership may have reached a plateau, study after study reveals that an increasing number of people are spending more time online and receiving their news from online resources. Steve Rubell of the media and technology blog Micro Persuasion postulates that in the future, RSS feeds will replace newspapers. Hoffman points out that few of the major newspapers offer RSS feeds featuring the full content of their printed news. Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog issued a request to American Lawyer Media to make their legal news available via RSS. This begs the question, why is this content not on an RSS feed? I'm at least as important, if not more so, than all the other news combined. Right?

Last Monday was Presidents' Day, a day many people did not have to work. I, however, did have to work. I was left to think how President Lincoln would have felt about my working on the day we celebrate his birth (which came a full week after his real 197th birthday). I seem to recall Lincoln had some kind of problem with slavery, so I assume he would have been sympathetic to my plight. He was a lawyer. He was also the only President to receive a patent, which you can see at Patently-O: The Patent Law Blog. f/k/a…, the poetry law blog, posted excerpts from a Lincoln biography that discussed what kind of lawyer he was and what kinds of cases he handled. Apparently, he represented a lot of railroad companies, which would make him kind of a corporate attorney. f/k/a… also posted a Lincoln quote with direct relevance to law bloggers.

Why are there so many mattress sales on Presidents' Day? What does affordable bedding have to do with the U.S. Presidents? Similarly, why do we get the day off for Labor Day? Shouldn't we have to work extra hard?

Jeff is a writer from Los Angeles, CA. Currently, he is the moderator of the message boards at Judged.com, the largest insider source of law firm information.

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