Blog Solutions for Lawyers, Learn More Blog Solutions for Lawyers, Learn More

I received an email from PLI this week letting me know that the url to a piece I cited for a book being published by PLI and authored by the former CMO of a major law firm no longer exists. 

We are checking the proof for…… book, and when I attempted to verify the url for the…… article you cited……, the page no longer exists on biglawbusiness.com (Bloomberg Law). And now looking at the sentence attached to the footnote, I realized this might be a direct quote from……, is that correct? (Currently, it is not in quotes.). Please let me know how you want us to proceed. We cannot include the broken link, but can keep the reference if you can provide another url, or perhaps if you can verify that it does exist on Bloomberg Law (might it only be available to subscribers?), maybe we can provide a general link to Bloomberglaw.com. Otherwise, can we delete this text regarding……, as we can’t have a quote without a source?

The piece I cited was an article written by the Assistant General Counsel for a $100 Billion multinational corporation who is widely respected in the legal community for his work, writings and speaking.

The article was “precedent” for a point I was making and the source was the only one I was aware of.

I searched Bloomberg Law and could find no reference to the article. I searched the author’s name on Bloomberg Law. expecting to find a page listing all of their articles as I had in the past,  I found two of their articles. The rest were gone.

Turns out the author of this piece and other pieces for Bloomberg had recently contacted Bloomberg and was told, as I recall, that they didn’t have an answer and were working with a new publishing system.

I personally contacted Bloomberg by email earlier this week and received no response. I used Twitter to contact Bloomberg looking for some sort of explanation for my broken link for the PLI article, I received no response. The chat on the site was not active.

Feels like Bloomberg, and in particular Bloomberg Law, is playing fast and loose with leading lawyers who are giving of their time to publish for Bloomberg. If articles are missing and links broken in this case, it must be the case for other lawyers’ articles.

If Bloomberg is asking lawyers to publish for them years on end, admittedly a good way for a lawyer to raise their profile, doesn’t Bloomberg owe the lawyers an explanation in advance that their articles may not be displayed or reachable on search — even if only temporarily?

If the articles will be “moved” to a new location on the Bloomberg site, doesn’t Bloomberg owe it the lawyers to make sure the URL’s for the pieces are rewritten or remapped so that citations of the pieces will not be broken?

Doesn’t Bloomberg owe it to these lawyers not to remove the articles or change the linking structure in a way that displays broken links in that a lawyer’s influence is measured objectively today by search and social algorithms looking at citations to a person’s works? Take way those articles and links and you reduce the influence of the lawyer and their other writings.

Remember that links to those pieces are included in emails, articles, blog posts, seminar presentations — not only from or by the author but by other legal professionals who are practicing and in academia. My guess is that citations to some of the “Bloomberg articles” made it to briefs and, possibly judicial decisions.

Use my example with PLI to understand the context of deleting lawyers’ articles. 

Founded in 1933, PLI, or the Practicing Learning Institute, is one of the leading learning organizations dedicated to keeping attorneys and other professionals at the forefront of knowledge and expertise. 

PLI provides programs delivered by more than 4,000 volunteer faculty including prominent lawyers, judges, investment bankers, accountants, corporate counsel, and U.S. and international government regulators. They publish a comprehensive library of Treatises, Course Handbooks, Answer Books and Journals. 

As with other legal publishers. PLI facilitates the ongoing dialogue and advancement of the law, a profession where precedent founded on citations plays a critical role.

When a legal publisher, as significant as Bloomberg wants to be, says you can’t cite to our works anymore and we won’t provide access any longer to any publications of ours that you may have previously cited, it cuts off dialogue and advancement of the law across the industry, including via leading  publishers and educators such as PLI.

I hope we’ll find in the coming weeks that Bloomberg is taking its role in legal publishing more seriously than it appears from this case – that all of the articles written by lawyers remain and that the url structure will result in no broken links.