9 July 2007
The Lawyer's Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week's blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@ thelawyer. com.
•Site of the living dead
A new website has been launched that gives US lawyers a numerical rating. Called Avvo (www.avvo.com), it assigns a number between one and 10 that lets you know how good a lawyer is.
The score is derived from a mathematical model that considers the lawyer's experience and professional achievements.
Mark Britton, who used to be general counsel at Expedia.com, set it up, so it must work.
Or maybe not. John Henry Browne, a criminal defence lawyer in Seattle, was not happy about his 3.7 rating, which put him in the range labelled 'caution', and so is taking the site to court.
He is also a little angry that he ranks far below Bernie Willard Potter, who managed a score of 6.2 despite being both dead and disbarred.
Avvo is fighting its corner. Britton said in a statement: "The internet is making it possible for many different types of opinions to be heard - none of them perfect, but all of them valuable.
"And, because these attorneys may not like opinions being rendered about them, they have filed this lawsuit - a mere nine days after Avvo's launch - in an attempt to bomb all of us back to the Stone Age."
The story has been reported by major news sources in the US, such as The Wall Street Journal. So far all Browne has done is draw national attention to the fact that a dead lawyer has better marketing skills.
•Legalese justifies fees
If you find yourself in meetings with barristers and solicitors and don't have a clue what they're talking about, then the 'Lawyers Online Legal Dictionary' is the site for you.
Found at www.power-of-attorneys.com/legal_definitions. htm, the dictionary helps put legal jargon into simple terms.
But beware, the compilers seem to have a slight bias against Latin: "This language, a confounding potpourri of legal mumbo-jumbo which absolutely no one can understand, has allowed lawyers to keep their clients off balance while extracting monstrous sums of money at the same time."
Here are some examples of the useful info you might find:"Caveat rumpus: Latin for 'covering your ass'. An often exercised principle in the legal profession. Also known in legal circles as 'CYA'.
"Quid pro quo: Latin for 'something for something'. Generally an agreement between the lawyer and the judge wherein the lawyer slides the judge some cash under the table in exchange for letting the lawyer's client off the hook."
The definitions come from a book entitled It's Time to Wake Up and Smell the Lawyers.
•The Wii bourgeoisie
The Wall Street Journal's law blog (http://blogs.wsj.com/law/) has reported on US firm Kaye Scholer's summer associate programme in New York, which featured a 'Tournament of Champions' competition on Nintendo's new Wii console.
The firm held a competition in tennis, boxing and baseball. The prize was a free Wii.
Corporate partner Mark Kingsley supervised the summer smug-fest, helped by three associates. He told the blog: "Just look at the pictures, everyone has a smile on their face." Sickening.
Kaye Scholer will also offer its summer associates tickets to the White Stripes concert at Madison Square Garden later this summer, this being in addition to the thousands of dollars they get just for turning up to the office.
Still, it's worth it to see the looks of shock on the faces of the summer associates when they come back to the firm after law school as fully fledged lawyers: the Wiis will be gone, replaced by three years of filing in a dark basement. Hopefully.