Web week

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.

When is a blawg not a blog?

The rise of the blog has been unfettered and the ‘blawg’ – loosely defined as blogs dealing with issues of law – has been just as popular, particularly with legal professors and stressed-out students. Even the odd real working lawyer has their own blog, although these are mostly from across the Atlantic where it seems striving for 3,000 billable hours isn’t enough to fill up their days.

In the US they have raised the issue of where to draw the line between a blog being a forum to sound off with personal opinions and it becoming marketing or advertising material. And a heated debate has arisen over whether the latter option should be regulated as such?

Many UK firms have their own form of blog, from Pinsent Masons with its out-law.com site, to the many who blog experiences of trainees on their graduate recruitment websites. While these are fairly clear-cut cases of marketing, the blogs of individuals are a bit of a grey area.

Law.com reported: “Many states are in the process of revamping their attorney ethics rules and part of that process involves the prickly issue of whether blogs should be regulated as advertising.

“On the one hand, states want to protect consumers from unscrupulous advertising presented under the guise of an online diary. On the other hand, they want to preserve the free flow of ideas – and valuable legal information presented in a public forum – that the new technology has fostered.”

The joke’s on them

One of www.thelawyer.com’s more popular stories this week was from Australia, where three Western Australian firms are planning to float under the umbrella of a parent company.

One of the firms preparing to float is Brett Davies Lawyers, a specialist tax law boutique.

On the ‘About Us’ section of its site (www.taxlawyers.com .au/About_us.htm) Brett Davies tells us the firm wishes to make lawyer jokes obsolete and they provided a link to pages of all their favourite jokes, but, unfortunately for us, most of the links are now obsolete. Perhaps the firm will be able to use some of the expected A$14m (£5.65m) raised from its float to update its website.

Naughty Nulty

The Lawyer revealed earlier this year (19 August) the extraordinary profit being made by Warrington firm Avalon Solicitors and its senior partner Andrew Nulty.

It didn’t take long for the national media to take an interest in The Lawyer’s work, and on 7 October, Times Online (www.timesonline.co.uk /article/0,,2-2392668.html) followed up on the story, delving into the personal life of Nulty and his colourful background.

Raising the stakes

The scandal over backdating stock options in the US gathers pace, and general counsel at are getting caught up in the slew of resignations.

The Wall Street Journal’s law blog (blogs.wsj.com/law/) says the general counsel position has traditionally not been seen as a high-stakes position in the US, but that may be about to change, and there are more questions than answers.

“Given the toll of this scandal, are general counsel changing the way they practice, especially vis-a-vis stock option grants?” queries the blog. “Are they relying more on outside counsel for advice on securities issues? Relying on them less? What are the lessons learned by GCs, and how – and to what extent – are they changing course midstream? Is it a less desirable job than it was six months ago, or more?”

Decision time

The thought-provoking blog of Bruce MacEwen (www.adamsmithesq.com/blog/) posed an interesting question last week (12 October): how does firm management know when to decide? The timing of a decision can often be as critical as the decision itself.

“Pay scrupulous attention to when to decide; too soon is too uncertain, too late is too much missed opportunity. As with many things, you learn to become a better decision-maker by making lots of decisions. Practice, in other words.”