As a result of poor publishing practices, law firms are inadvertently hurting lawyers and the law.

The influence of their lawyers is at risk, if not severely diminished, and the advancement of the law is curtailed.

How so? Through a combination of sloppy digital publishing practices and not recognizing the role law blogs and their blogging lawyers play in both the advancement of the law and the administration of justice itself.

Law blogs have achieved the status of secondary law, sitting equal to or even ahead of law reviews and law journals.

Blogs have democratized legal publishing. Practicing lawyers, usually with niche expertise, who never published in law reviews and journals are regularly sharing their insight in blogs. Areas of law never covered before are being covered by lawyers with deep expertise obtained by practicing law.

Blogs are routinely being cited — by blogs, in social media, in law review and law journal articles, in briefs and memorandums and by courts at the trial and appellate level. In just fifteen years, blogs have become part of legal dialogue and the administration of justice.

Each time a blog is cited, the relevant post is linked to. The blogging lawyer is routinely cited and linked to as well.

With each citation, the blog’s influence and the influence of the blogging lawyer is increased. Geometrically over time.

Influence not measured subjectively, but objectively by machines and algorithms. Think search engines, legal research solutions and artificial intelligence applications.

Sounds promising until you get to the publishing practices of many law firms.

  • Blogging lawyer leaves a firm and the lawyer’s name is removed from all blogs, and often replaced with the firm’s name. The parties who have cited the post and the lawyer are embarrassed when people go the citation through the link and the authority (the lawyer) is absent. Citations will dry up up as people are not going to cite a post without the authority. The lawyer’s influence takes a big hit with citations going away and search tools and social media no longer seeing the lawyer as an authority via their posts at the firm.
  • Blog posts are removed when a lawyer leaves a firm. Immediate dead link from all citations and again the lawyer’s influence takes a big hit.
  • Blogs are taken down altogether when a lawyer leaves. All citations gone, the lawyer’s body of work is destroyed and the lawyer’s influence takes a huge hit.
  • Law firms move their blogs from one website solution to another, often software solutions not designed for legal blogging and run by web development companies not proficient in blog publishing. Url’s are destroyed, thus destroying all the citations and measures of influence for the lawyers.

I say inadvertent as I don’t believe law firms are trying to damage the influence of their lawyers and their careers nor impede the advancement of the law or the administration of justice. But it’s happening and law firm publishing practices are the reason.

Time, an open discussion about law firm publishing practices and uniform linking and citations, likely through WordPress, will correct things – or at least reduce the problem.

Law firms will not want to be know for being a firm that does not enable lawyers to grow their influence and career while publishing at the firm while other firms do. They won’t to be known for impeding the advancement of the law or the administration of justice. They’ll also not want to be known as not being tech savvy enough to run or select a proper publishing solution.

This issue is a serious one. I spoke this week with one of the authorities at the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School working on Recognizing the gravity of broken links in the law and the sheer number of them, has developed a service that helps scholars, courts and others create web citation links that will never break. We talked about systems and solutions to reduce and prevent link rot (broken citations) in more legal blogs.

Fifteen years ago, most could not have foreseen the need for uniform practices for legal blog publishing. But the day has come to begin work on it.

RSS is the standard for the syndication of published content across the open web. For law firms, RSS is how their content reaches many readers, especially their blog content.

But of late, I am finding many law firms not using RSS in publishing, even in their blogs.

Other firms have their RSS feeds set up incorrectly. All of their blogs in one RSS feed so users receive content they don’t want. RSS feeds kicking out some content, but missing other content – almost like a magazine with blank packages here and there. RSS feeds that don’t work at all so nothing shows in a news aggregator or on publications based on RSS such as LexBlog.

The sad thing is that RSS is simple. Its non-abbreviated name says as much – Real Simple Syndication.

RSS is not something that needs to be set up. RSS comes included in all blog publishing software. RSS is included in the largest content management solution (CMS), WordPress, which is used on 70% of all websites running a CMS, whether it be a blog or other content site.

Even though RSS is a standard include, I had one large firm tell me recently that they needed to pay their website development company to go back and turn on RSS. Another large firm said they needed to pay to get their RSS fixed on their just launched website. It’s sad, sounded like they were saying they bought a car without a standard include – like a functioning steering wheel.

Hey, I’ll confess when I started this blog in 2003, I had no idea what RSS was. In fact, when I hit the RSS button on my site, a page of what seemed like gibberish showed up. Turned out this was the “raw RSS code,” displaying as it should.

I soon found out that what one of things that made blogs special – and in factor superior to static content on websites, was RSS. RSS was  akin to a radio single sending out content from your blog to an audience who wanted to hear from you.

The standard symbol and website button for RSS is, in fact, a radio signal.

Without RSS, your website was like broadcasting from a radio station without an antenna. Everyone in the radio studio could hear you, but beyond that, forget it. Especially those folks with radios who turned into to your station wanting to hear what you had to say, they got nothing.

Imagine a lawyer unknowingly publishing blog posts on a law firm platform that did not have RSS working. Imagine telling the lawyer later that we were making it impossible for many users to read the lawyer’s posts – or that we were letting the world know that we, as a law firm, didn’t know what we’re doing when it came to a widely used and a simply deployed technology.

When I went out and met with law firms about blogs almost fifteen years ago, I explained that one of the great advantages was the RSS feed. I used RSS, one of the key elements of a standard blog, to sell blogs.

I explained that RSS created a web feed (RSS feed) which allowed users (clients, media, prospective clients, other bloggers etc) to access updates to the law firm’s blog at other than the blog itself. Pretty powerful compared to expecting users to come to a law firm’s website or blog to read updates.

Powerful also for automatically displaying blog posts in entirety or by excerpt back at the law firm’s website.

RSS feeds allowed a user to keep track of updates from many different publications or blogs in a user’s single news aggrator, the most popular of which was Google Reader, until Google shut it dowm. Today the most popular is Feedly.

The news aggregator automatically checks the RSS feed for new content, allowing the content to be automatically passed from website to website or from website to user. This passing of content is called web syndication.

Beyond news aggregators, RSS is how many large news service aggregators and syndication sources gets feeds. LexisNexis, is just one of many that has  syndicated blog posts that LexisNexis received by RSS. Other aggregators and syndicators deliver news and commentary to corporations, worldwide.

LexBlog receives all the blogs not published on our platform via RSS. Via that RSS, LexBlog displays and categorizes posts, creates an author/contributor page and a law firm page displaying posts and contributors. We syndicate those posts to third parties such as Fastcase and bar associations.

RSS is the syndication tool of record across the open web. Beyond blogs, publishers and media producers usually use RSS to publish frequently updated information, such news headlines, audio and video.

Don’t get geeked out by RSS, it’ doesn’t have to be any more complicated than email, another content delivery tool. We look at email as pretty simple and don’t get wigged out about the software and web architecture that enables it to work.

Look at RSS just the same as email. You need it. You don’t need to know what it’s all about and how it works.

And don’t let anyone sell you RSS, anymore than you’d let someone sell you a steering wheel as an extra for your car. Or charge to fix your steering wheel that never worked and made it tough to drive.

Last week we shared the word with our clients and yesterday with bloggers, and other members of the press, that LexBlog has launched a global legal news and commentary network.

Today, it’s time to share the word with you. Especially with those of you blogging, without whom this news would not be possible.

The network, running on the site, is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, global news and commentary network, delivering timely and targeted articles from legal bloggers throughout the world. Any legal blogger, worldwide, is invited to add a feed to the network, and any reader is free to access the network, with no subscription or payment required.

You need not be a user/customer of LexBlog’s publishing platform to have you and your blog included for free. LexBlog customers will automatically be included. “Non-customers” just need to go to the “Join” page on LexBlog.

Some 19,000 legal bloggers already participate in the network, which features both curated and real-time posts from lawyers, law professors, law librarians, law students, legal-industry executives, legal marketers, legal consultants, legal technologists and others, providing news, insights and analysis on virtually every legal and practice topic.

Powering the network is LexBlog’s custom-built aggregation and syndication engine that allows the platform to aggregate blog content from any source, regardless of whether the blog is hosted by LexBlog on its own blogging platform or externally on any other blogging platform — as well as syndicate the content, as relevant, to syndication partners.

Big kudos to Jared, Scott, Angelo, Brian and Josh for doing the heavy lifting on the design, development and tech side for something we’ve envisioned for a long time.

As my colleague and LexBlog’s publisher and editor-in-chief, Bob Ambrogi says:

The wealth of original writing and reporting from legal blogs is staggering. For legal professionals, there is immeasurable value in having unlimited access to timely articles targeted to their practices and interests.

Ambrogi’s right. We’re also seeing legal news sites reducing coverage because of reduced revenues and erecting paywalls in an attempt to get subscription money for copy that is less valuable than that coming from legal blogs.

Legal bloggers are the citizen journalists of law and our network is bringing their work to the readers who will most benefit from it – legal professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, small business people and  consumers.

The network includes:

  • Featured articles curated by LexBlog editors throughout the day.
  • Real-time feeds of all articles from member blogs across the world.
  • Real-time feeds of targeted articles arranged by legal channels.
  • RSS and email subscriptions to channel and blog updates.
  • Profiles of each blogger, including the blogs to which they contribute and their recent posts.
  • Profiles of the law firms and institutions that publish blogs, including all the blogs they support, all their blog authors, and the recent posts from across all their blogs.

Content published through the platform receives additional exposure through publication to the Fastcase legal research service and through upcoming bar association publishing portals.

As Ambrogi says, this is just the first phase of the new Future plans include greater curation of channel pages, expanded original content and coverage, and special-focus publications. In addition, LexBlog will license and deploy its syndication and aggregation platform to law firms, bar associations, law schools and other organizations to power their own custom publishing.

What started out of a garage with one blogger – me – LexBlog is now the hub that brings together many of the best legal minds on the web. Humbling, to put it mildly.

Want to join our cause or know someone who would want to, I am looking for one ambitious and passionate associate editor, to have the time of their life in helping build this one of kind network. Journalism isn’t struggling at LexBlog, the intersection of blogging, technology and the law is going to make for something special – to serve lawyers and the people we serve.

The question of whether bloggers are included in the definitions of “press” arose at this year’s International Legal Technology (ILTA) Conference.

Historically, ILTA invited bloggers as part of the press, but this year put limits, seemingly arbitrary, on which bloggers received press passes.

Many bloggers (LexBlog had previously received press credentials) received a response akin to:

Bloggers seeking press credentials must be working journalists or be affiliated in an editorial capacity with a qualified news outlet as described above..

which read:

…credentialed journalists (i.e., professional reporters, editors, writers, news photographers, producers and online editors) who work for a publication, news service, broadcast outlet or news site that is regularly issued and published primarily for the dissemination of news, and operates independently from any commercial, political, government or special interest. Only media whose primary responsibility is the coverage of the legal, legal technology, technology industry, workforce tech issues, and related news will be considered for credentials.

Tom O’Connor rightfully called out ILTA for its denial of press passes to many bloggers, quite a few of whom had been long time supporters of the association.

During the conference, ILTA reached out to bloggers and other members of the press to formulate a more progressive policy when it came to bloggers.

My understanding is that ILTA attempted to work with bloggers who attended so they were included as press and is now looking to bloggers to help formulate a new policy going forward.

As part of those discussions and from what I have found out with regard to other association conferences, it turns out that legal conferences, in general. have a problem giving press passes to people who are members of the organization holding the conference or that are employed by a company.

Apparently the goal in declining press passes to the organization’s members is to force those members who blog to pay registration fees and to blog favorably of the conference and the association.

Declining press passes to those employed by companies (who isn’t?) apparently prevents an employee of a legal services company from reporting only things favorable to their company and motivates the company to buy exhibition space to hawk their services.

Nice to see that people in the legal profession think so little of the press, bloggers included, to think you may define the press to your favor.

How to define the press and who gets press passes for legal conferences? Easy, per veteran legal journalist, Bob Ambrogi.

Media registration shall be afforded to any individual who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes news or information about matters of public interest for dissemination to the public in any medium, whether print or electronic.

The press is the press. The fact that the Internet democratized the press and put a pen in the hands of more people, many with niche knowledge of an industry and its goings on, didn’t change anything.

Conferences and associations should welcome bloggers with open arms. The number of trade publications and reporters working for them is a fraction of what it was 10 or 15 years ago.

Ask any public relations person trying to get client coverage at conferences how hard it is today. The press list at many conferences is a joke. No one is there to report.

Get bloggers there covering your exhibitors and speakers and you’re gold as a conference coordinator.

Many exhibitors have told me they have received more valuable business from LexBlog’s coverage of them at a conference than through their exhibit space.

Most speakers are not reimbursed travel expenses, let alone paid for their time. The benefit from speaking comes in building a name. Getting interviewed at or before a conference or your having talk covered is more valuable than talking itself.

Without bloggers, coverage of exhibitors and speakers will be scarce at best. There are not enough of what conferences may call “reporters” and the “reporters” there don’t have enough of an interest in niches to want to cover sessions.

Want to get more people coming to your conference and joining your association, create excitement. Coverage via blogging and other social media does this.

Blogs have a free and open RSS feed and email subscribers. Put 15 or 20 bloggers in your confernce and you’ll have their feeds displayed on LexBlog with more niche coverage on the confernce than you’ll ever get from “Traditonal” legal media. You’ll also reach the bloggers’ email and RSS subscribers.

Limiting coverage of your conference to those people you call a “reporter” is putting your naivety on display.

Look around, media has changed. People get their news and information from people they trust, often via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “Traditional” legal media is wholefully behind on that front.

You benefit from bloggers. Be smart and show some leadership.

Recognize that you are part of the legal profession. A profession that stands for freedom of the press — a press that includes bloggers.

Are we seeing a resurgence in law blogs?

Something’s going on. Whether it’s more lawyers seeing the power of blogs, law blogs taking their place alongside traditional legal publishing (or replacing it), the ease of blog publishing today or me just seeing more good law blogs and bloggers, I don’t know.

I was speaking with a CMO of a 150 lawyer firm this morning whose firm has three blogs who is looking to upgrade those blogs and add more legal blogs. The non-blogging lawyers saw the amount of client and prospective client engagement generated by the existing blogs and now want to get started with blogs of their own.

Later on I received a message from a larger firm that has not traditionally blogged that they wanted to talk blogging, particularly with regard to a tight niche in technology.

My colleague, friend and LexBlog’s editor-in-chief and publisher, Bob Ambrogi says that he can feel new energy in legal blogging since he joined LexBlog at the beginning of the year and LexBlog began to aggregate and curate legal blogs on

Limited data would certainly suggest a rise. Over 17,700 legal professionals are blogging on our publishing platform, alone. That number continues to rise.

I’m talking of real law blogs. Blogs authored and written by caring, experienced and passionate lawyers, not blogs penned by folks other than the lawyer for the purpose of web traffic. Let alone the ethical issues those blogs raise, the blogs are little more than a billboard alongside I-95. An advertisement.

This country has thousands and thousands of lawyers with tremendous niche expertise. They represent victims of domestic abuse in getting a restraining order, work on funding deals for hundreds of millions of dollars, advise individuals on the formation of small businesses in Midwestern towns and appear in front of government of county, state and federal agencies on all sorts of matters.

These lawyers can offer one hundred times the practical insight as reporters with traditional legal news publications who can only quote authorities like these lawyers.

With the democratization of publishing, via blogs, these lawyers, in increasing numbers, are taking to the press – their own – to advance the law and their careers.

As we add tools to mine data from LexBlog’s aggegation and syndication platform, we’ll have better data to support the notion of a legal blogging surge. But for now, I’ll go with what Bob says, there’s a new energy in legal blogging.

How many of us championing greater access to legal success have tried LegalZoom? Not as our primary means to legal services, but to learn what can work in increasing access to legal services?

This afternoon I received the below email from LegalZoom:

It’s National Make-A-Will Month—let’s do this!

National Make-A-Will Month is almost over. We know you want to look out for your family—and we want to help you take care of your planning with a just-added, special 10% discount on an Estate Plan. Independent attorneys are available to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Remember, even if you don’t have all the information to complete your Estate Plan, get the savings now, and then finish when you’re ready.

Isn’t it time you finally cross “making a will” off your list?

Use discount code PROTECT18.

The email wasn’t an ad.

I am a member of LegalZoom – or better put, my company, LexBlog is. We paid $216 a few months ago for a “Business Advisory Plan 6 Month Membership.”

A few different reasons we joined.

  1. We were looking for an attorney to look at the terms of service on some of our sites. Fairly standard stuff, but we wanted to look at updating some things. I found it tough to find a lawyer with niche expertise and much, much harder to find a lawyer who would give us a flat rate. One lawyer sent me a fee agreement that spelled out little more than the hourly rates of a list of lawyers as measured by years practicing, not expertise. Our offer to pay an annual subscription fee set by the law firm for three years for terms of service related work, no matter whether we use them or not in the last two years, was totally blown off.
  2. We have a general counsel who is in private practice and we use specialists on other matters – a litigation matter and a privacy/security are two matters where we hired a specialist. But there are routine matters such as minutes and bylaws which LegalZoom had forms by state which we could just complete and store and not bother our general counsel to who we pay a flat annual fee. It’s not the type of stuff he wants to do and it may be easier to just do such work internally so it’s readily available and easy to update as needed.
  3. Most importantly I am a vocal advocate of increasing access to legal services. How can it be done? And particularly, how can it be done through the use of qualified lawyers. Having drawn, then $200 million in funding (now $700 million) and having probably the best known brand in the law, I needed to know as best I could what LegalZoom was all about. Why do they have 3 million members? Why do they have a net promoter score (NPS) that trails Apple, Amazon and Zappos by a bit, but blows away that of law firms?

Though I have spent time bouncing around LegalZoom’s member site and offerings, I’ll confess we have not used the LegalZoom member services yet. Our failure to do so on items like corporate minutes and the like is more out of our lawyer just doing them already, more than any inadequacies of LegalZoom.

The email I received made wonder how many of us in the legal industry are LegalZoom members.

How could you be working on or talking about the issue of access to legal services without knowing intimately what is making LegalZoom work for so many people? Lawyers, bar leaders, law professors and entrepreneurs – how many of you have used LegalZoom?

Those of us leading companies know all too well that we need to know as best we can what the competition is doing. What is attracting people to them? What are they doing better? What could we learn from them?

No question LegalZoom is a competitor on the legal services front, especially in the minds of their customers.

LegalZoom, not saying they are ideal, is doing something right to attract so many users, so much in revenue and so much in funding. There has to be something to be learned from them if you’re an advocate of increasing access to legal services.

What forms could be used? How could those forms be used in SaaS based solutions? How do we keep the forms current? Where does the lawyer step into the process after a user has done the work the lawyer doesn’t want to do? How do you build a network of independent lawyers who make more annually in a network like LegalZoom’s than they made in their existing law firm?

This is just some of what we could learn. Maybe bar associations and law firms could see ways to use services from LegalZoom to generate more work for lawyers – and make lawyers more accessible to the public. I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that LegalZoom can or should replace lawyers. I lead a company whose mission it is to increase access to legal services – via trusted and authoritative lawyers serving inviduals and corporations.

I just know less and less people are using lawyers. Not just because of cost, but because of a lack of trust of lawyers and the inefficiencies for all in lawyers not using the technology and innovation we’ve become accustomed to in the delivery of other services.

It behooves us to look at LegalZoom and what it’s doing for both the consumers of legal services and lawyers.

Want to join me in subscribing?

I work with a wonderful team at LexBlog – caring, passionate and cause driven professionals.

This year, a legal publishing and reporting legend (and my good friend), Bob Ambrogi joined us as Editor-in-Chief and Publisher to help build a first-of-its-kind legal news and commentary site built on a foundation of legal blog content from throughout the world.

LexBlog is seeking a highly motivated associate editor to help build this site. The associate editor will be an integral part of launching and expanding the LexBlog network and helping to build new products and services associated with it.

The associate editor will help in developing and managing all aspects of the LexBlog network’s editorial content and social media. This will include curating the best and most newsworthy content from a wide-ranging network of bloggers, recruiting new blogs to join the network, developing original content and authors, developing new publications and products, developing new content partners and partnerships, and engaging with the community of authors and readers through social media.

The ideal candidate will be a self-starter who is entrepreneurial, strategic and creative. You should have a strong interest in law and understanding of legal concepts. A law degree or experience in law is a plus. You should also be a careful editor with meticulous attention to detail. Journalism experience is helpful.

In addition to working on the LexBlog network, the associate editor will assist in related tasks, such as helping to manage social media and collaborating with LexBlog’s Success, Business Development and Engagement teams as needed.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Helping to imagine and build the LexBlog network. You will be on the ground floor of a first-of-its kind project helping to drive its future.
  • Daily curation of You will be part of an editorial team responsible for updating throughout the day by selecting and highlighting posts to feature.
  • Keeping abreast of legal news and trends in order to keep timely and responsive.
  • Recruiting new blogs to the network and developing familiarity with member blogs.
  • Writing original stories as assigned or as appropriate.
  • Helping to run’s social media.
  • Helping to coordinate coverage of legal conferences and events, providing social recaps and other necessary materials.
  • Conceptualizing and developing new editorial products and enhancements to existing products.

To qualify, you should have:

  • Experience in writing, reporting and blogging, with a background in journalism or comparable field.Experience in law — either as a journalist or legal professional — and understanding of legal concepts.
  • The ability to be a self-starter and self-sufficient.
  • A high level of creativity, both in day-to-day tasks and larger objectives.
  • Strong writing and editing skills.
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills with the ability to manage multiple stories, projects and tasks.

You will own this role if:

  • You like having fun
  • You like growing
  • Have a ton of energy
  • Have a passion for blogging and other social media
  • You are organized and systematic to a fault
  • You like people and enjoy meeting new people
  • You know done is better than perfect
  • You do what it takes

About LexBlog

Founded in 2004 to empower lawyers to increase their visibility and accelerate their business relationships through blogging, LexBlog is the hub that brings together many of the best legal minds on the web. Its publishing platform, offered as software as a service (SaaS), powers more than 17,000 legal bloggers and over half of the nearly 1,500 blogs published by the 200 largest U.S. law firms. By expanding LexBlog to blogs not published on its platform, LexBlog is building the largest and most comprehensive legal news and information network in the world.

We believe in hiring PhD’s (poor, hungry and driven). As Mario Gabelli said, “We’re not talking about people being poor economically. We’re talking about being poor in terms of knowledge, about people who are constantly searching to learn more, to find more wisdom. And hungry in this context refers to those with a tremendous desire to succeed, people who won’t ever be satisfied with an ordinary level of accomplishment. And driven people are the ones who set ambitious goals and then pursue them with real ferocity.”

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ILTACon came alive last week in DC for legal tech startups and emerging growth companies – and for folks like me who find these companies interesting.

ILTACon (Internal Legal Technology Association), an annual conference for legal technology folks from around the world and ALM’s Legaltech Conference have historically been dominated by large company legal tech.

The empahsis being, as it appeared to me, large companies selling to large law firms and corporations.

Guys like me who I practiced in a small law firm and started legal tech companies can be overwhelmed. Walking through the exhibit hall in years past I hardly understood what the companies were selling. Sessions seemed to be presented by people from larger organizations.

Unlike Clio Cloud, ABA TechShow and AALL Annual (American Assoc of Law Libraries), where I could understand the technology and relate to the people and their causes, I was a little lost at ILTACon.

This year seemed different, and maybe it comes down to what you make of the conference.

This year there were numerous legal tech startups and emerging growth companies. Whether speaking, exhibiting or just walking the halls, legal tech entrepreneurs were present — in big numbers.

Perhaps it was my growing interest in the stories of legal tech entrepreneurs, but there is something more going on.

The legal community is ripe for new legal tech.

  • Law firms and legal shops in corporations have seen the handwriting on the wall. The efficiencies and innovation brought by tech is upon them, no more holding on to the status quo. Larger tech and publishing companies are not the most innovative.
  • Legal tech is being written about everywhere, much of the ‘print’ about legal tech startups.
  • Funding, whether from family and friends or traditional capital/venture capital for companies having gotten traction, is more available for legal tech startups. Funders see the potential for growth and profits — if not an early exit.
  • The costs of developing legal tech solutions is not near as great as years past. Open source, cloud hosting and partnering with existing platforms are all available.
  • Lawyers are seeing opportunity,  inspiration and excitement in legal tech versus traditional law, with its limited opportunities. More lawyers are willing to take the chance.
  • AI and data driven analytics are going to lead to big change in the law. Getting in early as a founder or employee is exciting, and possibly rewarding.

Before heading out to DC, I came up with the idea of fearturing legal tech founders on LexBlog. I had seen ILTACon dedicate time and space to a ‘Startup Hub’ so I knew these folks would be there.

LexBlog’s Legal Tech Founders Series running on LexBlog, YouTube and my Facebook is my work of tracking down about a dozen founders for video interviews. Great conversations and stories, which I’ll discuss in more detail in a post later this week.

So for legal tech founders, I say “check out ILTACon next year.” Sure, the majority of attendees and exhibitors will be focused on large law and corporations.

But you have a place – picking up on the vibe, meeting with other founders and participating in the scheduled social events — and your own – to get to know other entrepreneurs. You may even pick up a potential customer or two. I did.

One after another of the legal tech founders at ILTACon told me business success was all about relationships – for partnerships, hiring, funding, customers and tech development. ILTACon is one of the places where you build relationships as a legal tech founder.

I’ve gone from dissing ILTACon a bit to being a fan. For me, it’s the legal tech startups who breathed new life into ILTACon.

Link rot in the law is a real problem.

Lawyers, law firms, law schools and other legal publishers don’t plan for link rot, nor do they appreciate the link rot they are causing – mostly by their naivety or the naiviety of the party handling their blog and web publishing.

Sourcing Wikipedia liberally, link rot happens when links on individual websites, blogs or publications point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable.

Such links are typically referred to as a “broken link” or a “dead link.” Bottom line, the target of the reference no longer exists – or at least not where it originally existed — and you get a 404 error.

Research shows that the half-life of a random webpage is two years. The half-life of a legal page, as evidenced by law blogs, is longer than that.

Link rot becomes significant in the law because of the role precedent plays in the law.

I don’t follow primary law – codes, regs and cases as much as secondary law – blogs, law reviews and journals.

I’d think links to primary law would be in pretty good shape as the source, in most cases, is still there as cited. Blogs, and soon to be published just like blogs on WordPress, law reviews and journals, are not in good shape, “rot-wise.”

How bad is link rot?

A 2014 Harvard Law School study study by Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Lawrence Lessig, determined that approximately 50% of the URLs in U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the original information. They also found that in a selection of legal journals published between 1999 and 2011, more than 70% of the links no longer functioned as intended.

Any number of things cause link rot.

  • Site taken down, invalidating the links which are pointing to it. Law firms have done this to the blogs of lawyers who have left the firm.
  • Some form of blocking such as content filters or firewalls. LexisNexis’ 360 is an example.
  • Links may be removed as a result of legal action or court order.
  • Content may be intentionally removed by the “owner.”
  • Many news sites keep articles freely accessible for only a short time period, and then move them behind a paywall. This causes a significant loss of supporting links in sites discussing news events and using media sites as references. ALM has done this in the case of contributions from legal authorities.
  • Websites can be restructured or redesigned, or the underlying technology can be changed, altering or invalidating large numbers of inbound or internal links. Happens all the time with law firms which often treat legal insight and momentary by their own legal authorities as secondary to marketing and website deign.
  • Dead links can also occur on the authoring side, when website content is assembled from Internet sources and deployed without properly verifying the link targets.
  • A website might change its domain name. Links pointing to the old name might then become invalid. This regularly happens when legal professionals move their publishing off platforms such as Medium and when law firms run their lawyer blogs inside the law firm’s website.

Link rot can be combatted in any number of ways.

  • When you change URL’s, use redirection mechanisms such as “301: Moved Permanently” to automatically refer browsers and crawlers to the new location. This won’t work when sites are moved from platforms such as Medium where there is no server side access.
  • Content management systems, such as WordPress, may offer built-in solutions to the management of links, such as updating them when content is changed or moved on a site. WordPress guards against link rot by replacing non-canonical URLs with their canonical versions.
  • Web archivists can, and are, engaged in collecting websites. The Library of Congress is doing this for some law blogs. LexBlog is looking at the question of archiving blogs on LexBlog, which will grow to be an aggregation of law blogs worldwide. Archiving, alone, may still have the issue of not displaying the original url which citations would point to.
  • Getting law firms to recognize that many law blogs, like journal and law review articles, are more than merely marketing. Scholoraly and legal work is not to put out in the public domain and pulled back at the whim of law firm policy.
  • Smarter use of the web by web developers,  legal professionals and legal publishers who lack an appreciation of the link rot they are causing.
  • Use established publishing protocol – WordPress. WordPress runs 70% of all sites with a content management solution, and it’s going to grow to 90%. Web developers using proprietary or marginally used website software can use suchj software for a website, but not for publishing, where they’ll use WordPress.

Legal librarians, knowledgement magament professionals and archivists have a better understanding of link rot and its ramifications.

As crazy as it may sound, link rot is real and so are the problems it genrerates in a precedent and citation driven field, such as the law.

Will you be attending ILTACON in D.C. next week? Are you running a legal tech startup company that you founded? I’d like to interview you as part of LexBlog’s coverage of ILTACON.

More than technology, new funding, customers and products, the interesting stuff (for me) about a legal tech company is the story of how the company got started and, assuming it’s been going for a while, how it’s survived where others have failed.

ILTACON, held annually by the International Legal Technology Association, is one of the leading legal tech conferences. Traditionally, the focus is large law, in-house law and the technology companies serving such organizations.

This year, ILTA is looking to foster innovation for the Legal IT community by shining a light on legal tech startups and emerging growth companies. One way it’s doing so is a Startup Hub where eight of the over twenty five companies who applied will be exhibiting and doing education sessions.

Taking things a step further, LexBlog would like to shine a light on legal tech startups and emerging growth companies – and their founders.

We’ll do it by Facebook Live interviews which will also be posted to YouTube and transcribed and posted, with the accompanying video, on LexBlog. The videos will be also shared on other social media.

Nothing to prepare for. Five to ten minute interview to get the gist of your story.

  • Who started the company?
  • When?
  • Why? What was the problem you saw that you solved?
  • How did you fund the start? Did you bootstrap?
  • How long after the start did it take to have customers?
  • When do you think you had it made — ar at least thought you would make it?
  • What was the low point?
  • What’s been most rewarding about founding a company?
  • What would you tell other potential legaltech founders?

You may reach me via email , text/call (206-321-3627) or social media.

See you at ILTACON.