Blawg Review has become a great resource for bloggers, blog voyeurs and techies. It is a great way to add interesting feeds and blogs to your blogroll, RSS feed and favorites list. This week, the honor of Blawg Review host belongs to the Greatest American Lawyer (“GAL”). GAL is a blog devoted to the ideals of professionalism, innovation and client service in the practice of law. I have included some of my favorite blogs in this review as well as submissions.
You will see below that the Roberts nomination continues to dominate the discussion in many legal and blogging circles. Your appetite for all things Roberts should be satisfied with this edition of Blawg Review. However, I decided to start this week's carnival of law bloggers with my favorite topic, improving the service level to clients (and of course overhauling or destroying outright the current iteration of the evil and destructive hourly billing model).
LexThinking - The Perfect Service Law Firm:
One my favorite blogs focused on innovation and inspiration within legal practice is the [non]-billable hour written by Matthew Homann. Matt provides constant and unrelenting commentary on legal practice and client service, always thinking outside the box, and often times looking to other business and social commentary to shed new light on the business and professional side of law. Here, he posts about marketing to women, something he has been tossing around with some experts in the field for the last year.
Larry Bodine’s Professional Marketing blog reports that general counsels want law firms that understand their business. The fact that half of general counsels believe that law firms ignore budgets set by clients, pad their bills and insulate themselves from client feedback simply demonstrates the point I have been making for a long time. There is very little competition in the legal market for any lawyer who is willing to break loose of the brainwashing that drives most law firm business models.
The AGL Associates Law Firm Consulting & Business Development blog recently posted on the proper utilization of technology in the law firm in order to increase the bottom line. Of course, those of use in the blogosphere know that there is a rapid movement towards technology on the premise that lawyers can use technology to deliver more service for less money. By using the proper technology tools, the cost of producing a given legal work-product can be reduced and often standardized, thus allowing the firm to move to a unit pricing structure. The price for a particular legal service can then be kept steady or even reduced as a firm becomes more efficient and is able to produce the required work with higher quality and greater speed for its client; this can lead to greater firm profitability while still controlling billing rates. [Don't get me started ..]
The ultimate goal is client satisfaction. Lower cost, quality legal work produced as rapidly and efficiently as possible is what today's clients want. The firm that can deliver that service will survive and prosper. Innovative client service models such as Traverse Legal’s Virtual paralegal / law clerk program which was previously discussed here and here offer true market alternatives for lawyers, legal professionals and clients.
Looking for a law firm which is incorporating innovation, high-tech and alternative billing into its 'on the ground' practice? Check out this one.
Speaking of technology, check out these links where lawyers debate the wisdom of providing cell phone numbers to clients: Partick Lamb at In Search of Perfect Client Service even gives clients his home phone number and thanks those lawyers who don’t. Patrick appreciates the competitive edge. GAL posted here on the same issue. Tom Kane’s Legal Marketing blog posted a long diatribe about making it easy for clients to reach you which again pushes lawyers to make themselves available to their clients.
Gerry Riskin (one of my favorite bloggers) has a post titled: “Myths about Innovations in Professional Service Firms (includes a pdf of the article). See also this special offer from the ABA on Gerry Riskin's book, The Successful Lawyer and this is interesting, too: “38% of Law Firms are the Sand and their Clients are the Sea.” I think I would prefer to be very wet sand, drenched in clients.
Adam Smith, Esq blog written by Bruce MacEwen regularly comments on the economics of the legal business. Many bloggers are average Joes like myself. Bruce is a true and recognized authority in the field. Here he discusses diversification in the law and new services being offered by law firms.
Dennis Kennedy.com blog opines that the explosion of BlackBerry purchases by law firms may represent a move to avoid investing in m ore expensive and important technologies. His post “A Contrarian View of the BlackBerry notes "my sense is that some law firms are using the BlackBerry as a way to save money by not buying Tablet PCs, notebooks or full-featured Pocket PCs for lawyers. That's just my opinion. Of course, true investment in technology is across the board, not just gadgets.
The Invent Blog has a practical and helpful post about how to perform a patent search and a link to an article that discusses "do it yourself (DIY) patent searching at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Isn’t this what blogs are all about. I look forward to the day when the practical information made available on blogs reduces the need for attorneys by 50%. The days of keeping clients uninformed are quickly coming to an end. Smart motivated clients will become partners in the legal process, and become educated about their rights and options.
And Justice For All:
Lest we lawyers forget, we work for a system which is supposed to promote access to justice for every citizen. Here are some posts which touch on notions of justice and whether or not we are actually achieving that ideal.
Lloyd Kahn @ Lloyd's Ongoing blog posts about Passion in the Court Room: The Sentencing of Tony Serra. Lloyd Kahn, a lifelong friend of Tony Serra, writes about Serra. Last week, legendary civil rights and criminal defense lawyer J. Tony Serra was sentenced to ten months in federal prison for failing to pay his income taxes. He was not driven by greed. Indeed, he spent so much time working for destitute clients that he couldn't afford his taxes.
Abnu at Wordlab presents Veni, Vidi, Vici, Vista asking the question on trademark lawyers minds this week, "Is Microsoft so big it can just use any product name it wants, knowing the lawyers will sort it out and they can ultimately buy whatever they need to acquire the necessary trademark rights?"
Ethan Leib @ PrawfsBlawg has an interesting post titled Employers Cannot Not Pay For Female Contraception. He asks: “Is pregnancy a disease?” and notes that the answer is yes, according to at least one federal judge.
David Giacalone's f/k/a Blawg brings attention to an interesting development in MA under the post: Does Bar Advocate = Greedy Lawyer? David Giacalone notes that "The majority of lawyers taking assigned counsel criminal cases to represent the indigent in Massachusetts -- called bar advocates" -- are poised to continue their illegal and unethical joint boycott of new cases, in order to put more pressure on State Government to increase their fees."
The Mommy Blawg posts that “Hospitals cannot intentionally allow newborns to die” in response to a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, which held that a hospital, by allowing a baby born prior to 24 weeks to die in accordance with hospital policy, was in violation of federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which provides that federally funded hospitals with emergency departments must examine and stabilize any patient who requests treatment.
The Appellate Law & Practice blog is unique in that it presents case synopses for federal appellate decisions. Here is a great post on a recent empirical study focused on unpublished decisions in the federal circuit. The author of the study, Beth Shaw argues that all patent decisions should be published to provide more guidance on fact intensive patent questions. Read the comments where an interesting discussion on the importance of grammar takes place. I have to say, I have always been a substance over form kind of guy. If you get the point, you walk away with the important information which was intended.
Of course, the nomination of Judge John Roberts continues to criss-cross the blogosphere. Personally, and as a lawyer inside the system, it seems to me that the more important battleground for those concerned about justice is the trial court level. While the Supreme Court makes law in a few (albeit important) issues each year, trial court judges across the country decide thousands of issues and cases each week. Our courts are wracked by politicians in judicial robes, lazy judges who fail to read briefs and who otherwise make arbitrary decisions for reasons of mood, convenience or other reasons having nothing to do with applying legal precedent.
Verity writing at SouthernAppeal makes the argument that the "abode factor" indicates that Judge John G. Roberts will make for a reliably conservative Supreme Court Justice. Verity suggests that those Justices who were elevated after living for a time in the Washington, D.C. area (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) have proven to be more reliably conservative that those who were nominated while living outside of the D.C. area (Kennedy, O'Connor, Souter and Stevens).
The Warrior Class blog discusses the “illusion of information” as it relates to the debate about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. He states: “In our media age, it is very easy to lose sight of the fact that the best information is, by definition, never published in the media. The most strategically valuable information is that which is known only to a few people.” He makes the well taken point that we will not find out who John Roberts is by plowing through legal briefs he wrote as an attorney or in any other advocacy role. We will not understand John Roberts by looking deep into his paper trail.
Of course, the point has repeatedly been made that Mr. Roberts has very little by way of a public paper trail. My take on the Roberts nomination is that it is certainly a shrewd move. Don’t think for a second that George Bush doesn’t know exactly where Mr. Roberts stands on the key Bush agenda items, including abortion. Check out this military man's blog called The Land of Alexander, and his take on the paper trail issue.
The ConfirmThem blog is an advocacy blog dedicated to making sure that John Roberts is, in fact, confirmed by the Senate. It is a highly political blog, with no hidden agenda. Understanding the clear pro-nomination agenda, it is a good source of information for those looking to push the Roberts nomination through.
I find it very interesting that the early spin cycle on Roberts includes an inquiry as to whether or not he was a member of the Federalist Society. Roberts apparently has indicated that he can’t remember if he ever joined. There have been reports in both directions, although it appears the dominant spin is that he was never a member of the Federalist Society. As reported at the Not-A-Pundit blog, John Roberts continues to refuse comment on Federalist Society membership. Does anyone doubt the severe conservative bent of this judicial nominee?
The Broad View blog reports on the alleged John Roberts screw-up, where he was asked: “What would you do if the law required a ruling that your church considers immoral?” Roberts reportedly responded that he would have to recuse himself. The Broad View blog takes exception to this response on the premise that Roberts effectively indicated that he would not uphold his oath to uphold the Constitution, if it interfered with his religious views. As a sometimes Michael Moore liberal, I have little doubt that Roberts regrets his answer. And I know for certain that he would not recuse himself. The real question is whether or not he would subject the Constitution to his religious beliefs.
The Pages Within blog has an interesting post about: “Roberts and the French Fry.” Of course, this is a reference to the so-called french fry case, wherein Judge Roberts spoke for a 3-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding the arrest of a 12 year-old girl whose crime was eating a single french fry at a metro station. To me, the result hardly seems surprising in a post-September 11th world. Recall that French fries have been boycotted based on their unfortunate name association with the French who failed to support Bush in his efforts to find Osama Bin Laden hiding in Saddam Hussein’s castle.
It ain’t a blog post, but this web page will get you thinking about the balance between personal liberty and police power.
In a post titled “The Constitutional Model for Advise and Consent”, Ted Frank seems to take issue with author Jonathon B Wilson's criticism of the Gang of Seven's website for soliciting questions for Judge Roberts. If the goal of the confirmation process is to test the qualities of the nominee and to confirm his qualifications, credentials and character, that goal is not well served by converting the process into a public referendum on a laundry list of hot button issues, manufactured by a focus group and advertised by publicity-seeking partisans.
Of course, the latest and greatest sub-controversy in the John Roberts nomination process is whether or not the White House will release memos written by John Roberts while he worked for the Reagan and first Bush administrations. Check out this post by The Suburban Guerilla blog. For those of us who are lawyers, regardless of political affiliation, I should hope we realize that advocacy is seldom driven by our own political beliefs or social agendas. A good trial attorney advocates for their client, even when their client’s agenda is different than their own. A good attorney does so without hesitation, thought or pause.
The Underneath Their Robes blog posts about The Roberts Nomination: And What About da Clerks? Noting Roberts own clerkship with Rehnquist, this Article III groupie and judiciary staffer goes to town taking a look at the clerk ships, past, present and future.
Al Nye The Lawyer Guy has a post and a question on another controversial bad-man for Bush, Karl Rove -- President Bush's Top Leak. Al notes, "The law can’t justifiably mean that you are only prevented from disclosing an agent’s name, can it? If that were true, think of all the things you could reveal about someone without disclosing that person’s name."
Moon/schmoon: Prof Yabut's thinking about snow Buddhas and gazing at the moon.
Latin phrases for all occasions: Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema.
At Jeremy Richey's Blawg, he shares his thoughts about lawyers after watching NBC's latest reality TV show - The Law Firm. He notes some of the same ethical problems as Donald Caster of All Deliberate Speed. He also concludes that "Attorneys, when equals, don't work well together.
The Ann Althouse Blawg has a post titled "Unpolished and quirky, with plenty of dead air and 'ums.'" She believes that "podcasting, like blogging, shouldn't be an amateurish, relaxed step down from MSM, but a freer, sharper alternative." My guess is that the level of production will vary greatly across the blogosphere for some time to come.
The Yeoman Blawg has a interesting post about debt collectors and their attitudes towards lawyers. Much like the current trend towards client surveys, smart lawyers are taking pains to learn and understand how they are viewed by other professionals, their clients and other lawyers.
Ernest Svenson over at Between Lawyers blog has a great rant on boilerplate language used by lawyers and especially big law firms. Of course, Ernie fully understands and appreciates those who insist such automated verbiage is beneficial, if your evolutionary state is that of a monkey.
That is all I have for this week. I hope you enjoyed this week's Blawg Review.