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Are American lawyers taking blogging for granted?

Importance of blogging lawyers in America

In 2012, Ethiopia sentenced a prominent blogger to between eight years to life on charges of conspiring to topple the government. On Monday, per Reuters Aaron Maasho (@AaronMG), Ethiopia charged six bloggers with attempting to incite violence.

Within the last week Russia placed, what Charlotte Alfred (@CharlotteAlfred) reporting for the Huffington Post, stifling restrictions on bloggers.

Reporters Without Borders warned that the bill is likely to reduce the space for free debate in Russia even further. “Like previous reforms, this bill’s sole aim is to increase control over online content,” RWB said.

The Russian and Ethiopian actions have drawn intense scrutiny, inside an outside of their countries.

The reason being is that these bloggers are essentially journalists. The bloggers represented a voice from those not heard before. A voice reporting on events and government action that had gone unreported before.

Hearing of events like this, which are routine in countries around the world, I can’t help but think that American lawyers take blogging for granted.

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, speaking at Above the Law’s Blog Conference last month, reminded the audience of the protection American courts give to the press, including bloggers. Rather than carve out a separate category of speech for bloggers providing lesser protection, the courts gave deference to bloggers on free speech.

Yet, many lawyers in this country look at blogging as a marketing gimmick.

I can hear lots of lawyers saying things like:

  • I don’t have time to blog, even if it took only two to three hours every week or two.
  • I’d rather buy blog content from someone else, even if it misleads people who rightly assume I write my own log posts.
  • I don’t really care what my blog content is, I just use my blog to game Google for high search rankings.
  • I am not blogging to provide helpful information on niche and local law to help consumers and business people. It’s about me.
  • I don’t link out to nor engage other law blogs. I don’t want to help them.
  • I don’t take positions or provide commentary on my blog. That wouldn’t be appropriate for me or my firm.
  • I don’t call out those companies, people, or government agencies, who I believe are acting wrongly.

We’re talking about journalism and the press here. Ought not lawyers, of all people, refrain from trampling over a medium like blogging which gives life to free speech.

Of course there are situations based on the type of work a lawyer is doing, their clients, and their position in a community that a lawyer can not speak their mind. In many cases it would not be ethical. But this doesn’t give all lawyers the right to dismiss the importance of blogging.

Maybe it’s just me, but lawyers dismissing the true meaning of blogging, free speech, seem to exhibit a lack of respect for those jailed in other countries and the importance of the First Amendment in this country.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Kevin Harber

  • http://jacksonandwilson.com/ Mitch Jackson

    It’s an honor to live in a country where everyone is allowed to share their views and opinions. The digital platforms allow all of us to do just that!

    As a lawyer, I feel it’s my duty to share good content with the consumer and help when I can. Social (and blogging) allow me to connect with people around the world who I would not otherwise be able to interact with. This privilege is not taken for granted. This especially holds true after reading your post about what has and is going on in Ethiopia, Russia, and many other countries and regions.

    I challenge all lawyers out there to share their thoughts and opinions on blogs and social. Listen to others and help when you can. The world will be a better place when you do :-)