Thank you to everyone over at Blawg Review for the opportunity to host this - the 109th Review, which is surely to be the Greatest Blawg Review. Special thanks also to those who submitted articles and making this review possible.
Here at the Greatest American Lawyer we are dedicated to two things - changing tradition and calling things as they are. In the name of both, this Review is going to break down, categorize, and assess posts from across the legal blogosphere focusing in all things "Greatest."
Our Greatest Challenge as Lawyers
Anyone who reads this blog knows I have a huge problem with the current incarnation of hourly billing used by law firms. The Greatest problem we face as a profession is the not personal injury and malpractice lawsuits. Not by a long shot. It is hourly billing. Even in house attorneys and outside counsel think that the notion of padding hours is commonplace. As noted by Tom Kane at the Legal Marketing Blog, padding hours is no longer a dirty little secret . Tom picks up on a post by Patrick Lamb (one of my favorite bloggers) who has another post about hourly billing abuses here.
Of course, the problems is not hours per se, but the incentives which hourly billing creates. Lawyers who wake up thinking about the fact that they have to bill 8 hours to a client are hardly thinking about the right things. Ron Baker at verasage.com has a great post on value billing here.
The Greatest Laughs
Compared to the Great comedic works of Shakespeare and Jerry Seinfeld, Rod's post over at Law Vibe - Law Student Blog was a refreshing reminder of the fact that lawyers too can do stand-up. His article, titled The Stupidest Things Lawyers and Witnesses Say in a Court of Law reminds me of some of the Greatest blunders that I made back in my earlier days... But don't worry, those laughs are safely hidden in the archives of the court - unlike some of the blunders Rod found.
Luckily for the clients we serve and the judges who get to watch us, lawyers are both great comedians, and great singers as Stephanie West Allen pointed out over at Idealawg. However, the beloved Bar & Grill Singers should be Greatful to Ms. Allen as her post warns of another singing crew arising from the medical profession. Singing lawyers and now singing neurologists? I am waiting for a rival group of Judges and Bailiffs who do interpretive dance...
The Not-So-Greatest Laughs
There is nothing funny about an anonymous blogger forced out of business, and thank you to The Mommy Blawger for making us all aware of the recent loss to the blogosphere as 2 Medical Blogs [were] Shut Down in the face of privacy concerns. While I disagree with the double-standard that Mommy Blawger suggests from Revolution Health regarding the rights and expectations of medical bloggers, I too mourn the loss of Flea and Fat Doctor who may very well go down among the Greatest of anonymous writers.
Laughs were also missing in a recent post by Ed Poll over at the LawBiz Blog. His post titled Receptionists Can Make or Break the Day is a sad reminder of the little recognition that some of the most important people in a firm receive. Too often lawyers walk past support staffers, ignoring the Great contributions that they make to the entire operation - contributions that are necessary for a firm to retain clients. The way in which a firm treats its support staff also reflects upon the way they treat their own clients - because if you can't treat your own staff with the respect they deserve, how can you expect to treat your clients?
The Greatest Defects
We all have seen our share of Trolls, but it is not those kind who carry such Great concern for bloggers like us and constitute an inherent difficulty with forums and listservs. I know this is a concern facing more than myself thanks to Jim Calloway at Law Practice Tips Blog who's post gives us some great tips about ways to deal with your resident troll. It may take a Great struggle to wrestle your forums and listservs from trolls like the ones he describes, but I have the Greatest faith in all of you.
There are always great controversies coming from sports across the globe, but it finally seems as if the Greatest Game may finally free itself from many of them if FIFA takes the advice of guest blogger William Birdthistle from the Volokh Conspiracy blog. What he sees as a Great defect of the game of football (soccer) is the huge impact that the referee can have upon the match, as a send off of an important player or a penalty kick can very well determine the outcome of the game. This often puts referees in a dangerous position in which they must decide between calling a foul or setting the result of the game. In order to eliminate this problem, Birdthistle suggests a method of weakening the power of the officials in order to lessen their rulings impact upon the game. I am Greatly anticipating his coming posts to see how he plans to do it.
At TraverseLegal.com, recent reports of major flaws in the domain registrations system should have everyone worried. At their domain and cybersquatting blog, it is reported that Enom is actually stealing domain names from their own registrants.
The Greatest Clashes
The conflict between open-source and patent rights is one that I will be watching very intently. All jokes aside, this is sure to be a great debate with consequences for both society and the market, regardless of which side wins. It was Deven Desai that put up a Great post regarding this very question from Madison.net. As he writes in Microsoft Going After Open Source?, Microsoft has claimed that free and open-source software violates at least 235 of its patents, with Linux the Greatest violator with 107 patent infringements. The Great question is what impact the outcome of such a lawsuit will have upon the software development and programming market and even the Internet itself. As Desai asks, will a suit see the patents of Microsoft invalidated or an unprecedented amount of restrictions upon open-source material?
Along the same line, a post from Peter Lattmann from the Wall Street Journal highlighted an interview with Mike Dillon, GC for Sun Microsystems, a company that has embraced open-source software and may soon find itself face to face against the behemoth of Microsoft. He also has some interesting things to say about the future of programming, citing Microsoft's attempt to stop open-source programs on patent violations as an attempt to maintain the status quo of programming and halt development. What I found as Dillon's Greatest contribution was his interpretation of the practice of investors and lawyers to use patents as a way to make a quick buck off of a program. He asserts that this has perverted the patent system envisioned by our "Forefathers" as these practices have taken it from a system that protected the risk and investment of developers and inventors - a Great conclusion.
John Wallbillich from Wired GC also provides his own story on this Great conflict in Open Source, Open Season? which covers the open-source issues facing software developers. While John doesn't go as far as Dillon by any means, he does offer a Great prediction - If Microsoft decides to pursue the patent infringement that it claims, Intellectual Property lawyers can expect a big boost in business.
The Greatest Decisions
Patrick Lamb's blog titled In Search of Perfect Client Service is a favorite of mine, and his recent post titled Who Speaks for the Client? is a Great example of just why. In a world in which attorneys are often looked to for the voice of the client, we must all realize how totally unprepared we are to do just that. As Patrick writes: "I've come to the conclusion that we cannot rely on ourselves to speak our clients in a law firm environment." This is why it is so important to have systems so that the "client's interests, the client's voice, are spoken--loudly--internally as the firm conducts its business". What a Great decision.
Value billing is a key aspect of the Greatest Philosophy, a system which provides legal service at a price equated to the value provided to the client. However, as our system of billing is quite uncommon, clients are used to legal services that provide quality service only late in the process - an issue Scott Greenfield just posted about on his blog Simple Justice. The tardiness that is often witnessed by clients with regards to the legal services provided to them is why many clients often wait until late in the process to fully commit to their defense. It is no surprise that defendants only accept the serious nature of the case (and the associated high cost of the legal service) late in the process, because it is only late in that process when lawyers often take their case seriously and actually earn the amount they are charging. This is why lawyers too have a role in making sure that clients Get It Right the First Time and ensure people don't go to jail for simple stupidity. To make the switch to value billing so that you can be the attorney that provides a quality service from start to finish and watch as clients gain the appreciation for the case before them and the value provided by your firm; now thats a Great decision.
The Greatest Repeat
When someone cites the all familiar quote "history repeats itself" it is often with regards to an ill-fated invasion of Russia, but at Blawg-IT, written by Brett Trout, this maxim is not just for the Historians. His post titled Have You Trademarked Your Short Codes? explores the growing market for CSCs or Common Short Codes, which most will recognize as the number you text-messaged to vote for Blake on American Idol. What I found most interesting was his comparison of this growing market to the market for phone numbers that corresponded to popular or trademarked phrases. If history is any indication, we may very well be arbitrating a CSC dispute with WIPO or NAF - but Brett doesn't think so.
The Greatest Clarifications
While my firm doesn't deal with criminal law, there are those of us who deal with defendents who find themselves confused in a process that has only recently gained personal relevance. Oftentimes, the only background a defendent has with a criminal charge is what they saw on Adam 12. This is why I appreciate the post from Jamie Spencer at the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, titled How the "Statute of Limitations" Works, which is a Great description that defendants will surely appreciate because it utilizes basic examples and avoids the lingo that often breeds confusion.
So thats it - the Greatest Blawg Review. From football to open-source, from short codes to trolls, its takes it all to make the Greatest.
Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.