Category Archives: Legal Professionals

Twitter and the Legal Profession

There has been a lot of discussion lately about Twitter and its applications for the legal profession. Twitter is a free micro-blog service in which people answer the question “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less.
Although many have questioned whether such a tool could have any practical application at all, for better or worse, some enterprising individuals have indeed applied it in legal settings. Here’s a sample of some of the ways in which Twitter is being used:

  • Networking with clients & colleagues
    From Real Lawyers Have Blogs:

    You can benefit from Twitter in three ways, that I see today. First, a way to socially network with people, some of which networking may lead to work, speaking engagements, and the like. Two, a means to amplify your message, i.e., spreading what you what you may be blogging, writing, or speaking on. Three, if you blog, you are going to get news from other bloggers whose content you may want to reference in your blog or work.

    For more on using Twitter as a marketing & communications tool, check out Steve Matthews’ Law Firm Web Strategy.

  • Live Coverage from the Courtroom – From journalists:
    From the ABA Journal:

    Reporter Ron Sylvester is covering the trial of defendant Theodore Burnett [accused in the contract killing of a pregnant 14-year-old girl] for the Wichita Eagle, but he’s also submitting updates to Twitter, described as “a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

  • Live Coverage from the Courtroom – From Jurors:
    From Proof & Hearsay

    Matthew Wheeler, a blogger who got called for jury duty, was red-faced when his site got more hits than normal earlier this week.
    Wheeler was breaking the monotony of jury service by Twitter posting with interesting observations such as: “Public wi-fi in the courthouse kinda blows. Actually, it really blows.”
    Well, he was selected for the pool of potential jurors who will hear the first lead paint injury case to go to trial. It’s the mother of all trials, at least in terms of its six weeks estimated length.
    “Still sitting for jury duty crap. Hating it immensely. Plz don’t pick me. Plz don’t pick me,” Wheeler wrote just before 4 p.m. on Monday.

    If you’re interested in the uses of Twitter in the courtroom, I highly recommend Anne Reed’s Deliberations.

80% of Legal Professionals Suffer from Information Overload, But You Don’t Have to be One of Them

A new study by LexisNexis reveals that 70% of American white collar workers suffer from information overload. That number rises to 80% among legal professionals.
Other findings for legal professionals include:

  • 90% of legal professionals agree that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a huge time-waster
  • 70% say they spend a lot of time sifting through irrelevant information.
  • Nearly 50% say that research takes up so much of their time that they occasionally omit billing clients for this work.

This survey has generated some comment around the blawgosphere.

  • Robert Ambrogi considers the effect of blogs:

    Yes, blogs can add to information overload, but they can also alleviate it by helping lawyers monitor and sift what is important in their fields. Like technology of all sorts, blogs can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use them.

  • Jason the Content Librarian suggests that law librarians can help lawyers cope:

    Law librarians are ideally suited to help individuals and organizations deal with information overload. Training attorneys in personal information management, participating in knowledge management programs, and participating on intranet teams are natural roles for librarians. These areas can greatly alleviate information overload and influence the bottom line of their firms.

    I wholeheartedly agree with both Robert and Jason. Technology is both a blessing and a curse for information overload. In recent years, the growth of new Web content has been practically exponential. A 2007 estimate put the size of the Web at 15 to 30 billion pages. The blogosphere alone is estimated at 70 million blogs. Taken as a whole, that’s enough to overwhelm anyone.
    But, fortunately, technology also gives us the tools to selectively choose which information we receive. Through RSS, you can subscribe to only those sources which interest you, be they blogs, newspapers, court documents, SEC filings, etc. With tools such as FeedRinse, you can even limit your RSS feeds further by filtering by keyword. Or if RSS isn’t for you, you can have RSS feeds delivered via email with tools like RSSFWD.
    While, yes, the amount of available information is indeed staggering, it need not be overwhelming if you’re smart about locating it. Librarians know this – and like Jason said, we can work with you to develop smarter information gathering techniques. Just ask us.
    So, am I suffering from information overload? No way. Bring it on – the more the better.

Diploma Privilege Lawsuit Reinstated

A lawsuit questioning Wisconsin’s diploma privilege was reinstated on Tuesday by the Seventh Circuit, reports JS Online.
From the article:

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz dismissed the lawsuit last year. The rule exempting University of Wisconsin and Marquette University law graduates from taking the exam does not violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, he said.
But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled Tuesday that Shabaz erred when he did not rule first on whether to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit. The court sent the case back to Shabaz for additional proceedings.

Historical Photos – Wisconsin Law

Have you seen the collection of photos that the Library of Congress has recently posted to Flickr? There are some pretty amazing photos, including a series of color photos from WWII era.
It got me curious about whether there were any interesting Wisconsin photos. I didn’t find much from the Library of Congress collection, but then I remember that the Wisconsin Historical Society also maintains a large online photo collection. Here are a couple that caught my eye.

The State’s First All-Woman Law Firm, 1945
Eight-foot Tall Lawyer, 1944
The Law Office, 1894

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Update 1/31/08: Robert Ambrogi over at Legal Blog Watch was intrigued by the photo of Clifford Thompson, the eight-foot tall lawyer and did a bit of research.

A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar Documentary Now on DVD

Earlier this year, I reported on the lawyer documentary, A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar… which was showing at several film festivals. Now, it’s been released on DVD and is available for purchase on Amazon and soon to be available for check out at the UW Law Library.
Here’s the NYT review as it appears on Amazon:

Writer-director Eric Chaikin’s feature-length documentary A Lawyer Walks Into A Bar. . . offers a witty, seriocomic look at myriad aspects of the American legal process and judicial system. It hones in on six individuals, all prospective attorneys at the time of the film’s production, and follows them through trials and travails as they approach and take the formidable bar. Chaikin then uses the subjects’ stories as springboards to broader digressions on U.S. litigation. The film features a myriad of celebrity guest appearances, from both well-respected attorneys and entertainers. Participants include: attorneys Alan Dershowitz, Mark Lanier and Joe Jamail; comics Eddie Griffin and Michael Ian Black; TV commentators John Stossel and Nancy Grace, and many others.

Source: Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites
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Update 9/26/07: The DVD is not currently available on Amazon, but you can still order through the A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar web site. Thanks to Charles Martin for the heads up.