Monday, May 16, 2005

 

More on Whether Lawyers Should Blog

For some reason none of my trackbacks to my previous post on this issue worked (that's why I call myself Lawgirl and not Techgirl). I will try again with this post.

I notice that IBM has issued blogging guidelines for its employees and is encouraging them to blog. I am still digesting the guidelines, but so far I like them, because - for the most part - they don't look as if a lawyer wrote them.

I will have more comments on them specifically, but I also like the fact that James Snell takes a swipe at the CNN article which recommends that people blog anonymously or not at all. I read a similar article about blogging anonymously and, at the end of it, I was left wondering "what's the point?" I can't link you to that article, because for some bizarre reason, I forgot to put it in my "favorites" (can't imagine why). But the guidelines were similar to those suggested in the CNN article, such as using an anonymous blog server (does anyone do this?) and password protection. It didn't go as far as CNN's moronic suggestion to return to the age of "pen and paper" but it was pretty close.

I've been doing quite a bit of internet research lately on the subject of employee blogging and I find IBM's attitude refreshing. Because we lawyers are so risk-averse, we are often attracted to the option that appears to subject us to the least exposure. Ambivalent Imbroglio bemoans this tendency, which he feels has characterized the responses to his own question about whether he should blog as a Summer Associate.

Again - here are some of the links that take the risk-averse viewpoint:

Legal Ethics Forum

Conglomerate

TechLawGeek

As well as Cathy's response to the Legal Ethic's Forum.

Update: I forgot to include Three Years of Hell

New Update: This poor man seems almost morose about this issue. Buck up, Blogger - things will get better.

Even Newer Update: Apparently, he's not that morose - apologies if I offended.

Ambivalent Imbroglio points to this blog as an example of the type of blogging that he feels does not compromise ethics or client relations. I have only skimmed the first page, so far, but I will try to read it more carefully over the next few days. Based on my superficial review, however, I can already tell that the writer has a very different view about professional blogging than I do.

Which brings me to my own "guidelines." Without getting into all the obvious stuff about not using profanity or engaging in flame wars, I have developed a set of personal guidelines regarding blogging content that I refer to as the Four C's:

Clients - I will not blog at all about the firm's clients, regardless of whether the information would be confidential or privileged. I would not want any clients (or my employers) to stumble upon my blog and be upset about anything I have posted about them (this is a no-brainer to me).

Cases - I will not blog about any of the matters that my firm is handling, even public information. This is mainly for the same reason that I will not post about clients, but also there is too much of a risk of letting slip some strategy that an opponent could capitalize on. Also, there is a risk that readers might think I am speaking for the firm, which I am not.

Colleagues - I will not blog about my colleagues, unless I have something super-nice to say about them, and only with permission first. I think it is offensive (and stupid) to bad-mouth colleagues on the internet - plus, there is no upside to doing so. Save it for margaritas with your friends and family.

Company - For now, I am staying away from blogging about my firm, the kind of work we do, or my impressions of working there. I have also vowed not to blog on "company time." Since lawyers don't really have a concept of company time, I define this as any time before 6:30 p.m., except for one hour during the afternoon (which other people refer to as "lunch time.")

Of course, you've probably noticed that, after all my grandstanding about not wanting to be "risk-averse," these guidelines are about as risk-averse as one can get without just giving up, hitting "shut down," and reaching for that pen and paper. Well, you busted me.

At any rate, I would love to get feedback on these guidelines or any of the other points in this post, or my previous post.

Love the Lawgirl.

p.s. sorry to Ambivalent for my numerous misspellings of his name (some unintentional and some intended to be funny) I think I have it right now.
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