Monday, February 12, 2007
Posted by Alan Childress
With much blogosphere attention (rightly so, I think) recently given to the issue of treating law blogs as advertising, and the new efforts of the New York bar to regulate them as such, one might flashback to a similar debate last year in Kentucky. It seemed to resolve itself into a reasonable situation after Kentucky lawyer and ethics leader Ben Cowgill submitted his blog for review (nicely supported publicly by Eugene Volokh, John Steele, and others), forcing the bar to think the matter through. Now, although the "About Us" page has to be submitted for bar review just as any similar page would from a static website, the bar found no need for recurring submissions and payment of fees for updated postings whose further purpose was informational. As Ben updated his readers, it wound up in a "fair and sensible" place.
New York should similarly interpret or re-write its newly effective regulations in a sensible way as well -- and especially spend its ethics energy on the real professional problems that the public perceives and actually suffers from the bar's predators and bad apples, who are not likely to be found blogging away or at least their core rottenness is not about the blogging as such.
A more subtle aspect of the new regs also needs to be reconsidered: its mandate that blogs or websites disclose the physical location of an office. Like FedEx: no P.O. boxes or general descriptions allowed. As argued well here by lawyer/blogger Nicole Black (from Somewhere, NY): that's not so safe an idea for a lawyer working out of her home who may not want the [nuts of the] world to know exactly where that is. The bar should not be forcing lawyer websites to become mandatory GPS for stalkers.