Congrats and thank you to the new TEN Networks Blog (and welcome, TEN members!)

The TEN Networks, Inc. launched its blog last week, and the editors graciously designated The California Blog of Appeal as one of its Member Blogs of the Month, along with with Elderupdates.com, the blog of Encino elder law attorney Brian Shepphard.

The TEN Networks is the umbrella organization for two business networking groups: The Esquire Network, a fantastic attorney group with a unique meeting structure, of which I am an enthusiastic member; and The Executive Network, which is open to other professionals. I encourage you to check them out.

Finally, how fortuitous (divine?) that TEN’s new blog would honor this one around the time I made my shameless plea for nominations for 2015 Legal Blog of the Year!

Shameless request for nominations

Expert witness service The Expert Institute is taking nominations for entries in its 2015 Best Legal Blog Contest.

Do I need to say anything more?

OK, here comes the shameless part.

Whether you are a years-long fanatical subscriber to this blog whose first action every morning upon waking is to grab your iPhone off your nightstand and check your RSS reader to see if there are any updates to this blog, or someone who just came across this blog yesterday, give some thought to nominating this blog. If you do, you should nominate it in the “niche” category. (If Best Blog By A Guy Who Does The Best He Can With The Time He Has Blogging About Things Like Appellate Procedure, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Technology in the Law, Significant Substantive Developments In The Law, And Court News Off-And-On Since 2007 is not a niche, I don’t know what is.)

To reach the contest nomination page, click the image above or the second link in this post. Or click here, here, here, or here. Or, if you like, here.

I’ll even let you click there to nominate other blogs. Just this once.

Update (8/19/15): Time is running out. I got an email this morning advising that nominations must be in no later than than the “end of the day” on Friday, August 21, 2015.

New blog to cover California Supreme Court

I received an invitation yesterday afternoon to attend a reception to celebrate the launch of a new blog “focused on providing substantive coverage of issues concerning the Supreme Court of California,” and billed as a joint project of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law and the Hastings Law Journal: SCOCAblog.

I don’t know if I was randomly chosen for an invitation or I was invited because I am a blogger on appellate issues. It’s nice to think it is the latter, and to think that maybe if I throw a link or two to SCOCAblog from time to time, the bloggers there might return the favor.

Oddly, yesterday I wasn’t able to find any trace of news about the impending launch other than what is contained in my invitation. I found nothing about it at the website for either of the endeavor’s partners, and going to SCOCAblog.com in a web browser brought up the same generic page brought up for any other inactive URL; there was no “coming soon,” “under construction,” or other message hinting that SOCAblog was on its is way. You would have thought it was a big secret.

This morning is a different story. Though yesterday’s invitation announced a launch date of November 24, 2014, the blog appears to have launched ahead of schedule.

New, and hopefully improved, design

Regular readers will note the blog’s new design, which debuts today. When I started my new blog, The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals, I utilized a customizable theme that emphasizes search engine optimization. I’ve switched over to the same theme here for the SEO benefits and in order to make the designs of the two blogs similar enough to suggest a relationship.

I still have lots of touch-up work to do, but I decided it was better to reopen the blog to access today as scheduled rather than spend another day or two tinkering without substantive updates. So, please bear with me as I clean up around here over the coming weeks.

Now in session: The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals!

The Ninth Circuit

Just before Christmas, I announced that this blog would be spinning off a new blog, The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals, with the start of the new year. I’m pleased to announce that The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals is now in session. This is the follow-up post I promised about how I reached the decision to split this blog and my plans for managing both of them.

First, an explanation as to why I am resuming blogging on a more regular basis. As regular readers recall, my blogging frequency dropped off dramatically in 2009. I posted from time to time, but not with the regularity and enthusiasm with which

I started this blog in spring of 2007. (Then again, I’m not sure any solo blogger could have kept up that pace for long.)

A funny thing happened while I was away from this blog.

Traffic doubled. People called and hired me after finding me through the blog. And, while I was worried that the drop off in my blogging would eventually catch up to me, and that I would be passed by other California appellate bloggers, it turns out many of them — the practicing attorneys, anyway — blogged even less than I did!

Now, all of that might suggest the whimsical view that infrequent blogging is the key to success! But I don’t look at it that way. I see the past year as evidence that renewed and consistent blogging will bring even more traffic and help reestablish my blogging niche. That way, I won’t be embarrassed at the state of the blog the next time I get mentioned at Lexblog.

Why spin off The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals?

There was one thing that was missing, or at least very infrequent, about the traffic generated by this blog: inquiries about

Ninth Circuit appeals. Virtually all my inquiries were about California state court appeals. When I did get an out-of-state inquiry, it was often for an appeal in some state court where I am not admitted to practice, or an appeal in another federal circuit.

That made me think that federal subject matter posted on this blog is hidden from the typical internet researcher. Who is going to look for information about federal appeals on a blog called The Calfornia Blog of Appeal, even if it shows up in their search results?

The new blog is an effort to reach those readers. It seems to me that someone with a federal case in Arizona who turns up a result on The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals is far more likely to look at it than at the identical content on The California Blog of Appeal, especially if that someone is a lawyer familiar with the terminology. (A fair number of my inquiries come from lawyers rather than their clients.) But even a party with little knowledge of the court system is likely to have learned from his trial lawyer that his appeal is to the Ninth Circuit.

I’ve taken steps (amateur ones) to “SEO” the new blog. That’s “search engine optimization” for you non-techies. And its designed to draw ninth circuit traffic like flies. I hope.

What should regular readers expect here?

The state-federal division between the blogs isn’t as simple as it sounds. You lawyers out there can think of it as the Erie

doctrine for blogs. The question I face is similar to that faced by the Erie court both in the nature of the split and the difficulty of answering the question: when does a post belong on the state court blog The California Blog of Appeal and when does it belong on the federal court blog The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals?

Well, the easy answer is that posts about federal cases go on  The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals and those about California state court cases go on The California Blog of Appeal. The problem is, that is the easy answer, not necessarily a good one. Too many posts transcend jurisdiction.

For starters, what about cases that affect the law in both court systems? For example, a case where the Ninth Circuit certifies a question to the California Supreme Court? Or a United States Supreme Court case regarding constitutional criminal procedure that governs all criminal cases, state or federal?

In addition, I’ve blogged about many things besides developing case law. Legal humor, legal technology, legal education , and even law practice and marketing are occasional topics here. I blog about legal writing and legal research quite a bit. I even blog about blogging and note the occasional oddity.

So, I’ve been pondering for several weeks how to divide these seemingly transcendant posts between the blogs, and I’ve come up with a hard and fast rule: I’m going to wing it. But I’m going to wing it with an eye towards taking care of my regular readers. I may cross-post some posts at both blogs. I may write a summary on one blog that links to the full post on the other. I ma

y try to put a slightly different spin on the same post at the respective blogs. The lighter and more personal posts are likely to be posted here. Until I establish some kind of rhythm, my principle concern will be not to make the transition too jarring for my regular visitors. My apologies in advance for any inconvenience.

There is, however, one way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Subscribe to both RSS feeds! (State and Federal.)

So, go read my introductory post at The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals, poke around a bit, and feel free to offer any suggestions for improvement.

Finally, within the next week or so I will be converting The California Blog of Appeal to a new theme that complements the theme at The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals and will allow me to implement better search engine optimization. My target date for the new theme is Monday, January 11.  You may find this blog down occasionally until you see it with the new theme

.

Unlike the Ninth Circuit, this blog is soon to be split in two

Teenage boy chopping wood

And just how, you might be wondering, is a blog with a single blogger going to split up?

Since this blog’s inception, I have covered case law and issues in the Ninth Circuit as well as California state court. Based on responses to the blog, however, it appears few people arrive by looking for federal information. Am I missing out on readers — and maybe even business — by having coverage of federal issues buried in a blog called The California Blog of Appeal?

Well, I’m going to try to find out. Starting January 1, 2010, your humble blogger is going to be pulling double blog duty, covering case law and issues from California state court here and covering case law and federal issues in the Ninth Circuit at The Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals. The new blog is still under construction, but if you care to bookmark it prior to the grand opening, click here.

I’ll have a lot more to say on January 1 about how I reached the decision to split the blog, how I intend to avoid duplicate posts on both blogs on subjects applicable to both (legal writing, e.g.), and how I intend to minimize inconvenience for my regular readers who wish to follow both blogs.

UPDATE (12/29/09): The split may be delayed until January 4. I’m running into technical difficulties with the design of the new blog. Nobody is going to be reading law blogs on New Year’s Day anyway . . . are they?

Well, just the impetus I needed!

Apple Introduces New Versions Of The iMac Computer And  iLife ApplicationsIf you are a regular reader, you know I’ve been AWOL for several months. What started as a short break turned into a hiatus, without so much as an announcement from me. Work and family issues made for such a hugely busy few months.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been considering how to get started blogging again. I’ve been mulling a change in focus of the blog, design changes, perhaps starting another one. Something I could do to rekindle my blogging spirit and herald my return to the keyboard.

Then, today I was thinking, “No. Forget about grand announcements. Forget about design changes. Forget about a shift in focus. Forget all that crap, and just start blogging again.

As if on cue, I got linked today in a post at Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Some kind words, too, in an interview with Michael Reitz of The Supreme Court of Washington Blog:

Lisa Kennelly: What value do you feel a blog specifically covering a state’s Supreme Court provides? Do you think every state could stand to have a blog like yours?

Mike Reitz: Yes. Every state should have a blog that covers the state’s appellate courts. The state high courts are often the courts of last resort for noteworthy cases. Additionally, state supreme courts have led the revival of looking to state constitutions, rather than the U.S. Constitution only, for the protection of individual liberties. There are a number of quality bloggers covering their state courts—D. Todd Smith of the Texas Appellate Law Blog and Greg May of the California Blog of Appeal for example.

I was horrified. Horrified. People were clicking their way here and finding at the top of the blog . . . an 8-week old post on the riveting subject of the closure schedule for the state’s courts. If they bothered to work their way down the page, they saw three posts over the four months before that. Wow, I’ll bet they were impressed!

Well, I am gearing up to blog again. And I still plan to do some tinkering with the blog. But I’ll just experiment as I go.

Your RSS feed reader is not malfunctioning

That’s right, this really is a new post. I didn’t plan to go for more than a month without posting — the longest time I’ve ever had between posts without first announcing a hiatus —  but events got the best of me. Which is OK.  Between clients and the blog, it’s not a close call.

I do plan to get a substantive post up this week and get back on a regular posting schedule soon.  Just wanted you all to know the blog has not been abandoned.

As a welcome back treat, allow me to share a couple of blawg items I found interestting.

First, I just ran across a blog called “EvilEsq,” which I discovered when its author started following me on Twitter.  Here’s an image from it, which, along with the title, is probably enough to tell you that you don’t want your name to show up there:

picture-5

Second, the blog of Fresno criminal defense lawyer Rick Horowitz has one of the best subtitles ever, at least if you’re an appellate guy:  Probable Cause: The Legal Blog with the Really Low Standard of Review.

Back to work, everyone.

I’m on Blogging Hiatus until the New Year

I’ve had a hard time getting back up to speed since returning from being out sick.  Fighting a lingering cold, catching up on old cases and jumping into new ones . . . being so busy and with Christmas approaching, this seems like a good time to take a blogging break.  I do not plan to post again until at least January 2, 2009.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, a fun New Year’s celebration, and a fantastic 2009.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And has anything interesting happened while I’ve been out?

Just a short post to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving Day.

My work schedule remains light as I continue to struggle through whatever crud I have.  Honestly, I thought I’d be over this by now, but the duration of this energy-sapping malady is going on four weeks!  Thanksgiving Day reminds me, however, that I should grateful my illness amounts to nothing more than a severe inconvenience. 

I haven’t been looking at the courts’ output for the last month or so, so if there’s anything of appellate interest that you think I should write about, email me with the case information and I’ll try to get to it. I am hopeful that I will resume posting next week.

Where are all the new posts?

Regular readers who are wondering where I’ve gone (and are, hopefully, disappointed at my lack of posting the last few weeks) should know that the blog lives!  I, on the other hand, have barely felt among the living the last few weeks, dogged by some kind of head/sinus/allergy/flu/who-knows-what-it-is that has really wiped me out.

 I’ve been able to work only on those projects demanding my immediate attention.  Since my blog can’t be dismissed for failure to post, while my cases can be dismissed for failure to file, my limited hours of coherence each day have been devoted to my cases.

I finally feel like I’m on the mend, and hopefully, I’ll be back up to speed next week.

And don’t let this stop you from sending me new cases!

Help Out Law Blogger Kimberly Kralowec

Looks like this is the week for appellate bloggers to embark on projects and solicit help from their readers. Unbeknownst to me until now, the day before I announced my intent to publish a series of posts on the reluctance of lawyers and clients to engage appellate counsel, Kimberly Kralowec (pictured left) at The Appellate Practitioner (better know for her excellent The UCL Practitioner) announced that she will be examining what works when asking the Supreme Court to depublish a case. Toward that end, she’s asking readers to submit successful depublication requests. Send them to her at uclpractitioner@gmail.com.

Report from the Pepperdine Conference on Judicial Opinion Writing

Pepperdine hosted a conference Wednesday on the craft of judicial opinion writing, with a panel that included Justice Samuel Alito. LA appellate attorney Ben Shatz attended and today posts his write-up of the event at the Los Angeles County Bar Association Blog, En Banc. His post is worth a read, especially if you wish you had been there.

Two things jumped out at me from Ben’s report.

First: Where were all the lawyers? Ben notes that the auditorium didn’t exactly look empty, but wasn’t close to capacity, either, and he wonders if Justice Alito is unpopular with the bar.

Second: Tenth Circuit Judge Michael McConnell gave some praise to the legal blogosphere (emphasis added):

Judge McConnell lamented that legal academics are often too political and ideological in their analysis of opinions. The first question should always be “is the opinion well grounded,” not a focus on the result. Politicians and practicing lawyers need to focus on results, but law professors shouldn’t. Blogs are beginning to provide appropriate critiques of judicial opinions, especially in certain substantive areas. Indeed, blogs are often the best (or only) feedback he gets on opinions, and thus he views them as a favorable and welcome development.

So different than what Judge Kozinski had to say about blogs, though that was some time ago.

UPDATE (8/7/08): Video of the conference here.  (Hat tip: Crime & Federalism.)

Zemanta Pixie

The Cover of Rolling Stone CITATIONS

You youngsters out there may not get the Rolling Stone reference (a big, big, song in the early 70s), but it is an irresistable one for me to make in announcing my newest article, because the article is featured on the cover of the August 2008 CITATIONS (along with my picture, to the great misfortune of the magazine’s subscriber base).  CITATIONS is the monthly magazine of the Ventura County Bar Association (full disclosure: I am on the editorial board).

The article is about my experience during my first year or so of blogging. I thought it was timely, given a recent California Lawyer column that advised solo and small firm lawyers against blogging except in rare circumstances.

As the title, “The Blog and Short of It,” suggests, it hasn’t all been a bed of roses.  But the downside of blogging is not so bad, either.  Click on the magazine cover at right for a PDF download of the August 2008 CITATIONS.

Oh, and let me extend a welcome to any any CITATIONS readers who may be visiting as a result of the article.  Come back soon.

Survey Results — Such as They Are!

Two weeks ago, in response to a post I’d seen elsewhere about judges reading blogs, I put up a survey in the right sidebar that asked readers to choose the description that best described them.   During that time, I posted rather lightly, and the blog had a slow few weeks: barely 1300 page views.  With 1300 page views, how many survey participants do you think I had?  100?  200?  500?

Try 34. I’m no statistics expert, but I figure that puts the margin of error in the results somewhere around 12,000 percent.

The only category with zero responses?  Judge.

The responses broke down as follows:

Next time, I’ll do some fundraising for a “get out the vote” effort, maybe allow voting by absentee ballot!

In case any of you have been waiting, I should be back blogging tomorrow.

I’m Still Here

You wouldn’t know it from my blogging output lately, but I’m still here and will continue blogging. I happen to be moving into a new office during a heavy work week, so actually looking at the newly published cases is a real luxury right now. I may get a post or two up this week, but they’re more likely to be links to other blogs rather than original commentary on any new developments.

I’ll resume my regular blogging schedule next week.

If you haven’t responded to the survey in the right sidebar yet, why not take the opportunity to do it now? The survey comes down Monday morning, June 2.

Participate in My Reader Survey, and More About Judges Reading Blogs

Last Friday’s post about blog-reading judges got my curiosity going about who is actually reading this blog. I’ve placed a survey at the top of the right sidebar asking you which of the responses best describes you. I would appreciate your participation, especially the extra effort any e-mail or RSS subscribers make to actually visit the blog to do so. You only need to respond once (in fact, if I have it set up right, it won’t let you respond more than once, even if you try it on different days). Select your response, then click the “Vote” button. That will take you to a bar graph showing the results of the voting so far and a a comment form for you to add any additional information you want. You can always check the results again by clicking on the “View” button.

To follow up on last Friday’s post: Over the weekend, I saw this post by Kevin O’Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs that, like mine, cited this post at Texas Appellate Law Blog. Added O’Keefe:

Many LexBlog lawyer clients tell me that high in their readership stats are visits from courthouses, especially the federal courts. Clerks at those federal courts, the ones in turn briefing the judges, tell me they are regular readers of law blogs.

***

No question that the day is near when lawyers with well written blogs on niche litigation subjects are going to be called in as co-counsel on an appeal or brief. The value of having a lawyer on your side whose material is regularly read by the court you’re before is priceless.

I can vouch for the blog visits from the courts. I have no idea who is actually at the other end, but traffic from federal courts always spikes whenever I post about a Ninth Circuit criminal case.

Judges Read Blogs

I’ve noted before some intersections between actual law practice and blogging. There was the blogging jury foreman and the blog where lawyers complained about judges, for example.  There are even some blogs by judges (look in the left sidebar).

Now, we have at least anecdotal evidence that judges are reading blogs. Texas appellate lawyer D. Todd Smith posts at his Texas Appellate Law Blog about his chance encounter with a blog-reading judge at a professional event. In fact, the judge is not just a blog reader, but a regular reader of Smith’s blog.

So, now I’m really curious. I’m going to fiddle around with some of the poll gadgets for blogs, and hopefully by Monday I’ll have a poll up at the top of the right sidebar that allows visitors to identify themselves as a lawyer, judge, law person, etc.

In re Marriage Cases is Out . . . and the Winner Is . . .

Well, I was wondering how quickly the first blog post would go up about this morning’s California Supreme Court decision striking down California’s ban on same-sex marriage (at least that’s how I’ve seen the decision characterized — I haven’t read the 161 pages of opinions yet).  The winner, at least among the approximately 200 law blogs in my feed reader, is Legal Pad, at 10:10 a.m.  

But I doubt they’re speed readers over there, for the post is pretty spartan.  But they promise regular updates throughout the day, and since it’s a California law blog, it’s probably the blog to watch throughout the day.

Welcome, California Lawyer Readers!

Welcome to all first-time visitors led here from the mention of me and the blog in the May 2008 California Lawyer article, Debate Heats Up Over Unpublished Opinions. (For those who haven’t seen the piece, it highlights the recent case of Hild v. California Supreme Court (No. C-07-5107-JCS (N.D. Cal. filed Oct. 4, 2007)), which the article describes as arguing “that the state’s publication rules violate Californians’ due-process and equal-protection rights by creating ‘a de facto policy of refusing review of unpublished decisions in civil cases.'” The piece discusses the case in the context of the ongoing debate over whether the rules should allow citation to unpublished opinions.) My original post on Hild has some useful links, including a good article by How Appealing‘s Howard Bashman.

By the way, the writer of the piece is freelance legal writer Lorelei Laird, whose own cleverly named blog, I Am Not a Lawyer, examines legal issues from the perspective of a non-lawyer.

I’m eager to get into the cover story for this issue, which is about law blogs, but I haven’t had a chance yet. From the look of the cover, though, it appears to make the legal blogosphere look scary! In any event, I’ll put up a post this weekend about my thoughts on the cover article.

Again, if you’re here because you saw the article, welcome! Stay awhile and poke around. Check out the sidebar information. If you’re going to scroll through entries, go back at least two weeks; last week was a light blogging week. Try pulling up all posts in the Legal Writing category, all posts in the Appellate Procedure category, or any other category in the right sidebar that catches your fancy. And come back soon, or subscribe to the RSS feed. (Not sure what an RSS feed is? Click here.)

UPDATE (5/8/08): Per my usual practice with these “welcome” posts, I’m going to leave this post atop the blog for the next few days so the targeted readers don’t miss it as they trickle in. Please look for new posts below this one until then.

Brief Upgrade Outage this Weekend

Time to upgrade WordPress again, this time to version 2.5.1.  I’ll be doing that this weekend, so the blog may be unavailable briefly on Saturday or Sunday.  I tend to do these things in the wee hours, when there’s less traffic, to minimize the disruption.  But you never know.

Sad to Go with Happy – “Decision of the Day” is No More

I almost feel a little guilty celebrating my blogging anniversary today reading that Robert Loblaw at Decision of the Day is hanging up his keyboard. His announcement says he is saying “farewell to the frenzy” and describes the history of his blog.

Many law bloggers, including yours truly, will miss his writing, which I once described as “Gold . . . Pure Gold.” He’s done a stellar job for years, If I tried to keep up the pace he did, I probably would have been beaten into the ground long ago. When I put his blog in my top 10, I wrote, “I still can’t figure out how Loblaw gets these posts up so close on the heels of the release of the decisions. It’s as if the courts e-mail the decisions straight to his brain.”

Good luck to you, Robert Loblaw!

Happy Birthday to The California Blog of Appeal!

The California Blog of Appeal launched at 3:12 pm on April 30, 2007, with a first post entitled “The California Blog of Appeal Will Now Come to Order!” (Seemed clever at the time, anyway.) I don’t think I’ve wandered far from the vision I described in that post.  So, if I may be self-congratulatory for a few minutes . . .

This is the 539th post on this blog.  The 539 posts span 135 categories (I may be going a bit overboard on cateogrization) and altogether contain more than 164,000 words. That’s the equivalent of nearly a dozen maximum length civil appellate briefs. Whew!

As for readership, the blog had 767 page views last June and has more than 4300 page views this month – nearly a 6-fold increase.  As the graph below shows, the last two months have exceeded even last October’s traffic spike, which resulted in large measure from a single post that got picked up and linked to by Overlawyered (and hosting Blawg Review #155 this month with a link from Instapundit sure didn’t hurt):

Of course, part of that growth is due purely to the increasing number of posts over time, which means more and more posts will be found in Google searches.

In the same period, RSS feed subscriptions have gone up from 9 to around 150 (though the badge in the right sidebar often shows about half that because it often fails to include Netvibes subscribers).

To everyone: thanks for reading, commenting and linking here. Here’s hoping you see a post here on the blog’s second anniversary — and many more between now and then.

P.S. One not-so-good stat: more than 16,000 spam comments intercepted by my spam blocker! That stuff is everywhere.

Light Posting Week

Things are a little crazy for me this week, so posting will be light. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll post anything other than the posts I already have in the queue to publish throughout the week. That means I won’t have any breaking news on cases. But I will have a few posts trickling out throughout the week, including a special anniversary post on Wednesday.

New Blogroll Listing: The Complex Litigator

Close shot of Rodin's The Thinker at the Musée Rodin.Image via Wikipedia

I’ve added The Complex Litigator, a very young blog, to my blogroll under the “Blogs – 9th Circuit State – California” category. Its subtitle:

A California-centric collection of comments and resources concerning the practice and procedures that make complex litigation and class actions uniquely challenging.

Every time you think all the legal niches are taken, a new law blog comes along to surprise you. And it starts with one of the best first posts of all time, which may actually describe what a lot of us law bloggers felt when we started blogging.

Finally, you gotta love the double meaning in the name. When I read it, I think, “Boy, that litigator is sure a complex guy.” The blog has a sculpture in its header image, but I think I would have used “The Thinker” (pictured) instead.

Welcome aboard to The Complex Litigator!

Hat tip: Wage Law.

(Photograph used wth permission pursuant to terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.)

Blawg Review #155

National Poetry MonthImage by DML East Branch via Flickr

There once was a blogger named May
Who thought he had something to say
Then he signed up to host
A serial post
Blawg Review one five five is today!

April is National Poetry Month! Which, in conjunction with hosting Blawg Review #155, makes it Bad Poetry Day here at The California Blog of Appeal. Here’s a haiku version of that introduction:

after a weekend
considering submissions
Blawg Review is here!

Ouch. If you’re still reading, allow me to welcome you to Blawg Review #155. Asking me to improve on Blawg Review numbers 1 through 154 is a pretty tall order, and not one that I’ll claim to accomplish. But I have tried to put together an interesting set of links for those who follow the legal blogosphere, and I hope I make them look tempting enough for you to check out. Recite the following haiku to yourself before getting started:

links to law blog posts
so tempting, drawing me in
read them all I must

OK, now you’re in the right frame of mind to get started. (Update: I’m being lambasted I was unaware that people have complained about desecrating the haiku genre in blog carnivals like this one. No offense meant, of course. My point isn’t to make fun of the haiku – it’s to make fun of my pathetic “poetry” skills. Hopefully, my prefatory comments to each poem avoid the second complaint about haikus — that they don’t communicate enough about the linked post to make it worthwhile to click through.)

(Note: in this post, blog names are linked to the home pages of their respective blogs; click on linked narrative text to go to the referenced post. Oh, and full disclosure: a number of these links are to blogs I follow regularly, and I may know the authors of some of these blogs personally.)

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

At least one law blogger beat me to it on the poetry theme. At Convictions, Kenji Yoshino notes tension between “serious” judicial writing and the injection of literature into same.

Other than that, I haven’t seen much poetic on the law blogs this week. So, in order to continue with the theme, I’ll have to provide the poetry for you with this series of totally unrelated blog posts.

Does a wedding photographer have to take a job to photograph a “commitment” ceremony? Professor Volokh has several related posts prompted by a real life case:

Need wedding photos?
Sure I can do it for you
same sex? then never mind!

Overview of Wal Mart supercenter -Plateros- Store in Mexico City. Before Wal Mart entered Mexico, this was an Aurrera store.Image via Wikipedia

In the internet age, you really have to be careful what you write, because sooner or later, someone is going to dig it up. But Wal-Mart is having trouble with pre-internet technology coming back to haunt it, according to Kraig Baker at Technology, e-Business & Digital Media Law Blog:

A retail giant named Wal-Mart
for some reason thought it would be smart
to tape all its meetings
now lawyers are feeding
on leaked tapes that give them a head start!

Jonathan Frieden thinks there’s another internet service that should probably keep an eye on the Roommates.com case, in which the Ninth Circuit held that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act did not confer immunity on an internet-based roommate matching service from liability for potentially discriminatory advertisements for roommates:

A person who wanted a roommate
Thought he’d say with whom he would associate
Then the Ninth said two-thirty
Cannot make less dirty
An ad that might discriminate

The BigLaw blogging duo at Drug & Device Law discusses the California Supreme Court’s adoption of the “sophisticated user” doctrine in product liability cases:

don’t you know better?
yes, sayeth the supreme court
no money for you, buster

Justice Scalia has been quoted in the course of promoting his new book with Bryan Garner, as noted by Civil Procedure Prof Blog:

Justice Scalia
promoting book with Garner
says he is no nut

Craig Ball at EDD Update takes on a data recovery urban legend:

the hard drive turning
data overwritten, safe?
more than you might think

Wow, this poetry writing is time-consuming. Thank goodness I have a second theme to move on to.

This version, executed in tempera on cardboard, was stolen from the Munch Museum in 2004, and recovered in 2006.Image via Wikipedia

NATIONAL STRESS AWARENESS MONTH

From goofy poems to something more serious; it also happens to be National Stress Awareness Month. So lets take a look at how the blawgosphere has addressed some of the stressors in our profession in the last week.

If you’re a law student or possible lateral move stressing out over that job interview, just concentrate on the high points. That’s all that seems to matter, according to Law 21‘s Jordan Furlong, who writes from the Great White North but says that law firm recruiting practices across North America utilize shallow evaluations of candidates and that law firms could learn a thing or two from Major League Baseball.

At Concurring Opinions, William & Mary law professor and young curmudgeon Nate Oman suggests that law professors could shed some stress by shedding some guilt over the accusation that law schools don’t prepare students for the practice of law.

The constant demand to bring in new business is also stressful, whether you’re a solo or an ambitious member of a large firm. The Greatest American Lawyer suggests you let the client generation take care of itself while you worry about something else instead. Carolyn Elefant at My Shingle suggests off-hours practice as a way to get a jump on practice while not giving up your day job. Tom Kane at Legal Marketing Blog.com says you’re making a big mistake if you’re not interviewing your clients. David Swanner at South Carolina Trial Law Blog advises not to succumb automatically to the temptation of a good case.

How about some high level stress? How do you hold onto your key partners? Who are they? And what about the other partners? Victoria Pynchon of the Settle it Now! Negotiation Blog sorts it out in a guest post at Connecticut Employment Law Blog offering suggestions for determining a partnership compensation model that satisfies the largest possible number of partners and is good for the firm, to boot. As if that’s not enough, American BigLaw management has to worry about being overtaken by London’s “Magic Circle” law firms, says Holden Oliver at What About Clients? — with a link to the Lawyer 2 Lawyer podcast on the subject. Also at What About Clients?, JD Hull points out that bigger BigLaw is not better BigLaw. More for BigLaw management to stress over.

Work/life balance is a constant, stressful struggle for man of us, and Atlanta Injury Law and Civil Litigation Blog responded to a study from the New York State Bar on the topic, including . Tami Cowden at Appealing in Nevada notes a recent study finding that lawyer productivity goes up after the lawyer has a child . . . provided the lawyer is the right parent. And with 24/7/365 communication, might you not be relieved if your firm banned Blackberries, at least some of the time, as Mitch Rubinstein at Adjunct Law Prof Blog tells us one New York firm has done?

It seems consumers want to avoid stress as much as lawyers. That’s at least one conclusion that might be drawn from their overwhelming preference for arbitration over litigation, a preference questioned by Barry Barnett at Blawgletter. Why go to court when only 2% of filed civil cases ever make it to a jury? (Profanity warning for that last link, which Florida Arbitration Law.com cleans up as best it can while still getting the point across.)

Litigation is stressful for attorneys, too. And aren’t depositions stressful enough without the witness dropping the F-bomb more than four times as often as he references the contract at issue? And do we really need to paper each other so badly that the court refuses to award costs, as Ray Ward of the (new) legal writer tells us happened in one tenth circuit case? Then again, maybe litigation isn’t so stressful if you’ve got what it takes to be a great trial lawyer per John Day of Day on Torts. Speaking of trial skills, here’s some pointers on PowerPoint for trial presentation, from Winning Trial Advocacy Techniques.

Actually, I wonder if we (that’s lawyers in general) don’t complain too much about stress. Imagine having a seizure disorder brought about by a brain injury. Gordon Johnson at Brain Damage Blog gives us a glimpse into the amazing world of seizure dogs and discrimination issues related to service dogs generally.

There’s nothing to relieve stress like a great motorcycle ride. Great for clearing your head. Norman Gregory Fernandez of the Biker Law Blog — who also happens to have the best blog portrait I’ve ever seen — offers some springtime riding safety tips. Geez, do I miss my motorcycle.

Maybe if we could work off more stress, we’d avoid incidents like these — rude hand gestures in court, racial segregation in the courtroom, fistfights on the courthouse steps, and more — described by John Browning at Arguments. And with all we’ve got on our minds, a little accidental shoplifting now and then is to be expected, and for Jamie Spencer at Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer, it puts his own advice to clients in a whole new perspective. We may be stressed, and it may affect our behavior from time to time, but we’re certainly not a bunch of “evil, malevolent people,” as Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice takes pains to point out in response to some nasty commenters who have lately come out of the woodwork.

SOME UN-THEMED AND SERIOUS STUFF.

Even if I were capable of writing something witty about the posts in this next section, I wouldn’t. No goofy poems. No stress jokes.

There’s nothing funny about interrogation. It’s deadly serious business. Eric Posner and Marty Lederman go back and forth on torture-related issues at Convictions. Professor Bainbridge raises what he calls “the elephant in the room” of that debate. Jack Balkin at Balkinization takes a close look at the issue of whether “torture memo” author John Yoo violated canons of professional ethics, and Brad Wendel at Legal Ethics Forum weighs in on the debate over whether Yoo should be fired from his Berkeley professorship. Mike Rappaport at The Right Coast wonders why, in a nation fixated on the torture debate, so little attention is paid to prison rape. (That last post may be a day too early for inclusion in this week’s review, but it’s too on point to ignore.)

And in closing:

my brain exhausted
poetry too hard for me
Blawg Review is done

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

Blawg Review Reminder

This has probably been my lightest week of posting since starting this blog nearly a year ago. I’ve just been swamped this week and haven’t had time to surf the web and review all the opinions I wanted to check.

Remember, on Monday, April 14, I’ll be hosting Blawg Review #155. It will be a very different type of post than what you are used to seeing here; so much so that regular readers may assume that the site has been hacked.

I’ll resume posting on Tuesday.

A Hunger for Grammar Guidance?

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better WritingImage from Wikipedia

My biggest day of blog traffic to date (and this blog is nearly a year old) was last Thursday, and more than half of the hits were to my post complaining about the misuse of “which” for “that.” Curious, I checked my Sitemeter stats and saw that a tremendous number of those hits were referred from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, to which I linked in the post.

I was ready to attribute the traffic spike to some sort of automated web crawling by the school’s servers, but there were also a huge number of clicks out from my post to several of the links in it. All of which makes me wonder if people are really hungry for clear guidance on grammar.

As much as I enjoyed the traffic spike, my writing posts will continue to concentrate on style, with the occasional grammar post. I’ll leave the regular grammar instruction to Grammar Girl.

Thank You to VCBA Business Litigation Section

I presented “Blawgs” 101: Incorporating Legal Blogs into Your Practice to the Business Litigation Section of the Ventura County Bar Association at their monthly luncheon today, and had a great time doing it. I think I managed to pique the curiosity of a few folks, which is what I was trying to accomplish. I’m hoping that curiosity will take them to their computers with the resources list I provided (PDF download) in hand to explore law blogs.

To any participants here looking for the PDF of the resource list, the link in this post is the same as the link in the left sidebar that I directed you to. In fact, I’ll be taking down the sidebar link in a week or so, but this post, with its link, will stay up.

Thanks again for having me, and special thanks to Dennis LaRochelle and his committee for taking a chance on a topic very different from the usual VCBA Business Litigation Section luncheon presentation.

Thanks also to the following bloggers for responding to my call for input on how my readers use legal blogs.

Your input helped me prepare.

UPDATE (4/9/08): See the comments for an attendee’s account of her success using blogs for research.