Monday, March 29, 2010

Blawg Review #257

Welcome to Blawg Review. To celebrate the first anniversary of 22 Tweets, our Twitter interviews of practicing lawyers, we’ve put together a special version of Blawg Review. What does that mean? First and foremost, it means that we’ve selected 22 posts from this week’s legal blogs: 22 authors, 22 blawgs, 22 posts.

More importantly, it means that this week there’s no free ride on Blawg Review. We like interviewing lawyers. On Twitter. So Blawg Review #257 does just that: each blawg we’ve included is accompanied by a question in the form of a tweet to its author. We’ll tweet the questions later this week, and compile the responses we get into a 22-lawyer Twitter interview that will be posted to Blawgers, we hope very much that you’ll play along, and look forward to getting your responses tweeted back to us via @22Twts.

22 Blawgs from 22 Tweets

  1. Charon QC, who writes about, well, just about anything and everything under the sun in his weekly “Rive Gauche” post for Charon QC The Blawg, bringing together, among other things, Tesco law in Scotland, forging payslips in Singapore, and the London Sperm Bank: “Rive Gauche: Antique ASBOS, a BNP barrister, Meow Meow drug barons, and a pharamacist who won’t give out contraception because of ‘religious beliefs’ al

    @charonqc What would you say is the most significant issue facing the legal profession today? Can it be resolved? How?

  2. Stan Abrams, who calls it like it like he sees it in his china/divide post on the Google pull-out of China: “Google’s Hong Kong Gambit Is Public Relations Victory

    @chinahearsay What’s the legal story behind the Google pullout of China? Will there be a public dispute? Who has the upper hand?

  3. Dan Harris, who gives us another insightful post on his China Law Blog. This time it’s a ‘moderate’ post on the state of FDI in China: “Google, Rio Tinto And The Truth About China FDI. BTW, They Are Not Even Really Related.

    @danharris Can foreign companies doing business in China expect short-term repercussions from Google and Rio Tinto?

  4. Sam Bayard, writing in the Citizen Media Law Project blog, on a legal setback for Google that demonstrates the challenges that ISPs and other online intermediaries in a second BRIC economy: “Brazil Fines Google Over Dirty Jokes on Orkut; Brazilian Lawyers Weigh In

    @smbayard How important are safe harbors for ISPs to the development of emerging economies in general and the BRIC economies in particular?

  5. Jay Shepherd in The Client Revolution, who draws an important distinction between the lawyer-as-laborer and the lawyer-as-artist in his ongoing efforts to kill the billable hour: “Art and Labor

    @jayshep Do you ever turn down work because a potential client just doesn’t get value billing? How do you convince the ones on the edge?

  6. Jim Walker, who writes about crime on the high seas in Cruise Law News. Not the swashbuckling kind or the “off the coast of Somalia” kind, but the more common kind encountered on land. Except without a police force: “Your Dream Cruise - The Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

    @cruiselaw You represent a diverse group of people in your practice. What is the single most important legal issue for your clients?

  7. Paul Kennedy, who writes in The Defense Rests about the difference between “just” and “fair” and why it’s important: “It’s possible to be just, but not fair

    @PaulBKennedy You blog about a diverse range subjects. What are your objectives for your blog? Are you meeting them? How have they evolved?

  8. Jonathan Turley, who sparks in his eponymous blog a very lively debate on complying with the police, the use of force, and obeying the law in his post “Ninth Circuit Rules Police Officers Were Justified in Tasering Pregnant Woman Three Times Over Traffic Ticket

    @jonathanturley How do you decide which client representations to take on? Are you attracted to them by the legal issues or the people?

  9. Johnny Gardner, who writes an engaging critique of the death penalty in Law and Baseball, not on moral grounds but rather because the stakes are so high and the variables so great in capital punishment cases: “The Death Penalty – I’m all about it

    @lawandbaseball Why did you become a lawyer? Have your views changed since you’ve been practicing?

  10. Ron Coleman, who writes about intellectual property and the two Chinas, and how IP disputes are leading to cooperation across the Taiwan Straits in Likelihood of Confusion: “Two Chinas Policy

    @RonColeman What’s the next big battlefield of intellectual property law? How will it help define IP law in the next decade?

  11. Kevin Underhill, who writes in Lowering the Bar about a rather lengthy Ninth Circuit decision finding that “assault with a dangerous weapon” does not apply in the instance of attacking someone with one’s with bare hands: “Ninth Circuit Grapples With Whether Bare Hands Are ‘Weapons’

    @loweringthebar Was it hard to convince your firm’s leadership to let you blog? Are there ever editorial conflicts? How are they resolved?

  12. Bill Marler writing in Marler Blog, who updates us on the latest chapter in Stephanie Smith’s E. coli poisoning from a tainted hamburger produced by Cargill: “Smith vs Cargill E. coli Trial 2010

    @bmarler Will the Health Care reform legislation have any impact on victims of food-borne illnesses? On the regulation of food producers?

  13. Brian Tannebaum, who calls out lawyers seeking the #1 spot on Google results in “The Ethics Of Lawyer Marketing, And Other Lost Ideals.” You love him, you hate him, but in the end you’re glad he’s there, injecting common sense, clarity and credibility into lawyer marketing in the social media age at My Law License.

    @btannebaum What will the legal ethics landscape look like in 10 years? Will the profession be struggling with the same issues it is today?

  14. Eric Turkewitz in New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog, writing on the health care reform bill and what it means for his clients, personal injury victims: “Health Care Bill: Benefits For Personal Injury Victims

    @turkewitz You’re an active Web 2.0 participant. What specific impact on business, if any, have you see from your online activities?

  15. Adrian Baron, The Nutmeg Lawyer, who indeed articulates the “trials and tribulations of law practice” as he weaves St. Patrick’s Day, the Ides of March, and a lawyer-shopping potential client into his post: “Shamrocks & Shenanigans

    @lawbaron You review law schools on your site. What advice do you have for people going to law school today?

  16. Ken from Popehat, whose post exploring the themes of the film “10 Rules For Dealing With Police” is an unintended but excellent companion piece to Jonathan Turley’s post: “10 Rules For Dealing With Police: Prudence and Subservience

    @popehat You’ve been blogging for a long time, on a very wide range of topics. What drives your blogging? Does it make you a better lawyer?

  17. Rick Horowitz in Probable Cause, who tells the story of a young client desperately in need of help, stuck in a system that cannot give her the treatment she needs: “I’m in a funk

    @RickHorowitz What can society do to help kids like your client whose mental health issues land them in jail? More funding? Better training?

  18. Gideon, whose latest a public defender post reminds us of the fragility of the Constitutional right to counsel that most of us take for granted every day: “Bad ad-Weis: spitting on Barker

    @gideonstrumpet What would you say is the most difficult aspect of being a public defender?

  19. Scott Greenfield in Simple Justice, who defends Harold Comer and his decision to not seek additional DNA testing for his client Hank Skinner in Skinner’s 1994 trial for murder: “Strategic Shunning

    @ScottGreenfield What’s the most significant challenge facing lawyers today? How is it changing the profession? Is there a fix?

  20. Edward Prutschi, writing on Slaw, who gives us a thought-provoking post on making the roads safer by adopting a very innovative approach to reducing the number of people who drive drunk: “Tackling Impaired Driving… By Decriminalizing It

    @prutschi Tell us about one of the more significant client representations you've had. What was it about? Why was it important?

  21. Mark W. Bennett, in a guest post on The Trial Warrior, reports on the U.S. Supreme Court’ in extremis halting of Hank Skinner’s execution: “Guest Post by Mark W. Bennett: A Triumph of Civil Litigation

    @MarkWBennett The SCOTUS stay is clearly a win for Skinner, but what does mean for the rest of us? Why is it a “triumph of civil litigation”

  22. Stephanie Kimbro in Virtual Law Practice, who provides a useful overview of the virtual law practice, what it is and isn’t, how it works, and what clients need to look for when they consider hiring an attorney who delivers legal services online: “Clearing Up the Terminology Before TECHSHOW

    @stephkimbro You must meet many potential clients who worry about VLO security. What’s the one thing that convinces them to hire you?

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What I’ve learned from a year of 22 Tweets

This week marks the one-year anniversary of 22 Tweets. It’s been a great first year. I’ve learned a lot from the interviews, about the lawyers I’ve interviewed, about the practice of law, about how what I hope is a representative slice of the Web 2.0 legal crowd markets themselves and their practices. And I’ve also learned a great deal about communication and communicating, about messages and crafting them, about stories and articulating them. While it would be hard to sum up everything I've learned in a single blog post, a few lessons stand out:
  • Everybody has a great story to tell. Most of the lawyers I’ve met over the past 20 years have interesting and engaging stories to tell, the kind that convey their passion, intelligence and conviction, the kind that draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat and make you glad you heard them, the kind that make clients want to hire them. They tell great stories (when they’re not so busy trying to pitch their services that they forget how powerful their own stories are), just like each and every lawyer I interviewed for 22 Tweets.

  • The medium is not the message. Whether you’re tweeting or blogging or meeting with a client or giving a presentation to an auditorium full of your peers, the medium is not the message. The message is the message. And lawyers need to understand and use the full range of communications channels their audiences are using – with a common message, one that conveys their strengths, their differences, their story – if they want to be heard.

  • The message received is the message. Not the message sent. There are few “do-overs” in real life, and even fewer in communication: what you mean is irrelevant if your audience doesn't understand what you are trying to say. Not because you can’t recover from miscommunication, but because when neither of you are aware that you aren't talking about the same thing, you’re not going to know it.

  • Effective communication is hard work. Part of the challenge (and I hope the fun) of being interviewed on 22 Tweets is responding in 140 characters. Finding a way to say who you are, or what you do, or why you do it, in a single tweet takes time and effort and work. And although life doesn't place the same constraints on communication as Twitter does (though many days I wish it would), the people who communicate most effectively apply the same rigor to all their words across all channels.

  • Value is king. Whatever your message, whatever the channels you use to communicate it, whatever the content you provide, unless it adds value to your audience, unless it helps them do their jobs better, make more money, get smarter or sleep better at night, then it probably doesn't hold a lot of value for them. Lawyers are in the business of providing value. Shouldn't your tweets, your blog, your website, your brochures and your speeches provide the same value as your legal work?
It’s been a great first year. Thank you all, readers and interviewees alike, for making it possible.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Legal Services and Chinese Outbound Investment

Steptoe & Johnson opened its first China office in Beijing on March 1 with the stated objective of providing services to "multinational companies operating in China as well as Chinese companies expanding beyond the People’s Republic of China." The opening was covered in an ABA Journal online piece here, and you can read Steptoe's press release here.
How realistic is this objective? On the one hand, there is no doubt that Steptoe, like virtually all international firms with clients active in China, could and should capture a bigger portion of the China-related work of those clients once it opens in China. But can it honestly expect to get meaningful work from Chinese companies on their outbound investment activity? Who is doing that work now? What would Steptoe need to do to break into that circle? Do they have the connections and reputation needed to land new work from Chinese companies? Just how much outbound work is there to go around, anyway?
I'm not trying to pick on Steptoe & Johnson here. Virtually every Western law firm in China is convinced that they can capture Chinese outbound investment work. Yes, there is a real opportunity for those firms representing Chinese companies outside of China. But few firms are positioned to get that work in the short term, and there probably aren't many more that will get it in the medium term either. Even if there is a lot of work available (which is not clear), there is a tremendous amount of competition for that work from both Western law firms already in China and from the top Chinese law firms.
What do you think?
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