“Have You Heard the One About the Lawyer Who…?”:
A Review of Legal Profession Blog
The Legal Profession Blog is a member of Law Professor Blogs, LLC, a network of more than 40 blogs written and edited by Law Professors around the country.[i] Like a gossip page for the practice of law, the Legal Profession Blog provides continuous updates on the disciplinary, criminal, and disbarment actions taken against attorneys across the nation. Ostensibly a blog about the legal profession, the posts primarily report on the misconduct of legal professionals and associated disciplinary actions. So who would follow a blog that reports on the misdoings of legal professionals? The stated audience for this blog includes legal professionals, law professors, and law students; given the sometimes sordid information provided, the general public and those looking for new material for lawyer jokes will also find this blog continually entertaining. The doings—and misdoings—that earn a spot on this blog are, unfortunately, a part of every profession in the nation, and due to the legal profession’s adherence to self-reporting, self-policing, and professional responsibility, no deed goes unpublished.
With clever titles, including “That’s What Friends Aren’t For,” “Wheels of Soul,” and “Hogwash,” the Legal Profession Blog draws readers in with just enough information to peak reader curiosity. In addition to providing a blotter of attorney and judicial misconduct, the Legal Profession Blog also includes updated ethical rules, ethical opinions, and bar admission decisions. In keeping with the spirit of professional legal writing, the posts are clear and concise and contain only those facts the reader really wants to know. Each post leads with the penalty imposed, giving readers a chance to evaluate the facts and circumstances in light of the ultimate outcome and reach their own conclusion as to whether the punishment fit the crime. For readers who want to know more, each post contains a hyperlink to additional resources including actual complaints, orders, or state bar announcements. “Probation With Movie Requirements” represents a typical post for the Legal Profession Blog.
In “Probation With Movie Requirements,” readers learn, in 76 words, that an attorney in Arizona consented to a disciplinary judge’s sanctions resulting from the attorney’s violation of ethical rules. His punishment (i.e. what readers really want to know, right?) was a ninety-day suspension, two years probation, and the viewing of two Continuing Legal Education (CLE) videos, presumably related to the behavior that led to his “ethical violations.” Readers wanting to know more can click the hyperlink to the actual consent order issued by the disciplinary judge. The order provides greater detail including the ethical rules violated and the terms of the sanction.
The Legal Profession Blog is very accessible to a broad audience. From a substantive standpoint, the blog uses straightforward and concise language rather than legalese and terms of art to describe an array of predicaments implicating legal ethics and professional responsibility. Aesthetically, this blog does not attempt to draw readers in with graphics or fanciful layouts; rather, the articles are predominantly displayed with very little distraction. Unfortunately, readers will not get much beyond the content of the blog posts themselves, as comment frequency is very low, despite the blog having garnered 996,521 hits since September 18, 2006. In addition to the comment capability, readers can share posts via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, or via email.
The available search tools make navigating the site relatively easy. Archived blogs are navigable, either by searching by topic such as blogging, religion, or travel, or searching by month and year. Readers can subscribe to this blog in order to receive notifications of new postings by simply entering an email address. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of legal professionals running afoul of the rules of professional conduct, which fortunately for the readers of the Legal Profession Blog means multiple posts per day, almost every day, of lawyers behaving badly.
Overall, for legal professionals, law students, and the general public, the Legal Profession Blog provides an interesting glimpse into the world of professional misconduct without too much technical detail, multiplicative analysis, or extraneous commentary. Unfortunately, the site comes off a bit salacious with its focus on the negative stories of legal professionalism, as opposed to stories that highlight legal professionals’ adherence to codes of conduct, ethical rules, and professional decency. The blog does serve as a reminder to law students and professionals, however, of the importance of diligent adherence to the code of professional conduct, lest one finds her story as the next headline on the Legal Profession Blog.
~ Emily Ray, L’14 ~
[i] Legal Profession Blog is edited by S. Alan Childress, Professor of Law at Tulane University Law School; Michael S. Frisch, Ethics Counsel at Georgetown Law Center; and Jeffrey M. Lipshaw, Associate Professor of Law at Suffolk Law School.