April 30, 2010
Much Ado About (Almost) Nothing: Criticism of Findlaw Network Blogs
"When Findlaw.com launched 15 hyperlocal, news-based blogs last winter, the legal blogosphere took note—and aim—at the alleged “spam blogs.'" writes Rachel M. Zahorsky for the ABA Journal in Bad Blogs? Lawyers blast FindLaw offerings as spam. Some snips:
The blogs—which don’t allow reader comments—are presented as local legal news websites and are not intended to serve as a platform for legal discourse, according to Thomson Reuters. But [New York City-based lawyer and author of New York Personal Injury Law Blog Eric] Turkewitz and fellow bloggers condemn the blogs for regurgitations of local accident reports and cases, followed by calls to action advising readers that an attorney may help them recover personal injury claims, and links to a list of lawyers that pay FindLaw for its marketing services.
FindLaw also found itself under fire for hiring nonlawyers as blog writers, the company says its blogs are just meant to augment the more than 1 million pages of free legal information it offers.
However, the value of the news provided is questioned when, as Turkewitz points out, a post’s author confuses civil and criminal legal terms, which is what one nonlawyer “writing specialist” did in a post on the Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog.
OMG, They're Just Blogs. I hope the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices notice that I'm actually, finally, able to write something positive about TR Legal. The Findlaw Network Blogs are just blogs for heaven's sake. The half-life of any given blog post is what, 24 hours? An noted in our analysis of TR's 2009 financial results and 2010 outlook, one bright spot in TR Legal's 2009 financial performance was that Findlaw's full-year revenue was up 13%. If TR wants to use this medium to its advantage, so be it. File under "much ado about (almost) nothing."
Speaking of regurgitations, when was the last time you saw an ABA blog post publish original content? [JH]
If a blog is used for solicitation, I wouldn't call it much ado about nothing. I would call it an ethical question for state bars to see how (if at all) they can or should address the issue.
Writing about specific accidents with the hope that the injured people will Google the accidents and find the lawyer isn't much different than buying billboards across from their homes and putting their names on it, along with a call to action at the bottom.
Posted by: Eric T. | Apr 30, 2010 11:17:00 AM