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Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

Federal Judge : Ethical concerns in law blogging vastly overblown

January 3, 2014


A lawyer’s publishing a blog poses as much an ethical problem as a lawyer’s authoring a book, giving a speech, or writing a legal article.

This from U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf (@JudgeKopf) in discussing his decision to stop publishing his blog, “Hercules and the Umpire.“

I am not quitting because of ethics concerns. Such problems are real, but vastly overblown. A thoughtful judge has about the same chance of violating the Code of Conduct when writing a book, giving a speech, authoring a law review article or writing a blog post. No one has given me the slightest trouble about expressing myself here.

As reported yesterday by the Wall Street Journal’s Jacob Gershman (@jacobgershman), Kopf’s blog “made a splash in the legal world with its unusually candid mix of insights on the judicial process, legal news and personal reflections.”

Disclosure of personal struggles with anxiety and depression, discussion of poor sentencing instincts, and chastising Congress during the government shutdown were topics discussed.

But it wasn’t problems created by expressing himself that caused Judge Kopf to stop blogging. No one gave him the slightest trouble.

He says he’s just worn out. “I have written all that I want to write and then some. It is that simple. My decision is final.”

Lawyers ought note Judge Kopf’s comments on the importance of law blogs to both the public and members of the legal profession.

This is a powerful medium for, among other things, making federal trial judging transparent and for trying to wrap one’s arms around the conundrum of judicial role. I hope some other federal trial judge takes up that hard but enormously satisfying labor. …… Readers have taught me many valuable lessons about how to become a better judge and human being.

Ethics not an issue for the prudent lawyer. Making the law more transparent for the public we serve. Becoming a better lawyer. And becoming a better person.

Powerful stuff brought about by lawyers willing to blog.

If you haven’t, click over to Judge Kopf’s post to see how he pictures himself. “One lucky dog.”

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