The last full week of August has come to a close with the sun shining bright in Seattle.  Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look the two new blogs joining the LexBlog Network this week.  We span a wide spectrum of blogging experiences as AmLaw firm Cozen O’Connor adds its eleventh blog to the network and the New England-based firm Cooley Manion Jones adds its first blog.  Thanks for spending time with me this week and checking out the best blogs of the week and the new network launches.  Colin will be returning to his post next week to continue informing you on all the important happenings in the legal world and the LexBlog Network.  Have a great weekend.

  • Hailing from Cozen O’Connor‘s Houston office are labor and employment attorneys David Barron and Charles Wilson as co-authors of the firm’s latest blog, Wage & Hour Tips.  Having worked on labor and employment law together for nearly a decade, Barron and Wilson bring a high level of expertise to a number of issues that can help human resources and in-house counsels navigate the many issues and demands related to delegation of employment work hours and compensation.
  • Defense Litigation Insider is the first publication on the LexBlog Network from Cooley Manion Jones, a mid-sized firm with offices throughout New England and two associate offices in California.  The expert team of authors from the firm’s Product Liability and Complex Tort Defense Group in Boston started this blog to help clients in various industries navigate issues associated with complex litigation.

 When Florida criminal defense lawyer Michelle Estlund started the Red Notice Law Journal earlier this year, she was looking to simply add depth to the resource-shallow canon of discussion surrounding a very specific area of international criminal law, but has quickly found blogging essential for her professional development.

"(The blog) has been helpful to me because it (has) forced me to stay abreast of all new developments regarding particular issues, which plugs me into information and people I might not typically come across without it," Estlund said.

The Red Notice Law Journal focuses on issues and news related to INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization, with particular attention to international extradition and Red Notices.  The individualized nature of each Red Notice case combined with the small number of lawyers who specialize in Red Notices leaves many unanswered questions regarding Red Notices.  The Red Notice Law Journal provides a platform for those affected by Red Notices and their attorneys to engage in discussion and to raise the general awareness of issues associated with Red Notices and related  extradition proceedings.

"I noticed when I first started doing this (blog) there was not much in the way of communication between lawyers who did this kind of work," said Estlund.  "There was very little in-depth treatment (on) the issue of INTERPOL or Red Notices that I could find on the internet or print media so I wanted to start something that would generate that conversation and act as a spring board for discussion."

Though resources are few and far between, Estlund makes the most of what is available to her by talking to Red Notice recipients and experts, keeping regular communication with INTERPOL and examining all available research studies, news articles, and INTERPOL press releases.

Estlund knows that followers of her blog have a genuine interest in Red Notices, but they may be intimated by a lack of knowledge on the subject, which is why she writes in a manner that clearly explicates information that can be easily comprehended by a broad audience.

"I’m not trying to be overly witty or provide water cooler conversation," said Estlund.  "I’m trying to be accessible to people who might not have English as their first or second language and who are affected by Red Notices and INTERPOL."

Taking a complex concept and making it universally understood is unique skill that Estlund possesses and it has not gone unnoticed.  Her ability to reach readers and help them absorb Red Notice and extradition material has brought about new clients for her solo practice.

"(Blogging) has been extremely helpful in bringing me clients," said Estlund.  "Without the blog, a majority of my clients wouldn’t know that I do this kind of work or feel any sort of personal connection to me to the extent that they do."

Blogging has helped Estlund build connections with not only clients, but readers as well.  Many people respond to her by email, instead of posting comments, since most responses accompany privacy and frustration.

"I get responses from people who have already been through the ringer and spent so much money and time trying to show their innocence in the countries that request the Red Notices," said Estlund.  "I think I’m able to help them because I can appreciate what they’ve been through and because I enjoy this work so much."

Having incorporated blogging into her practice only six months ago, Estlund has been enjoying the benefits of blogging and advises bloggers to simply sit down and commit to writing for the ideas to come.

"Even if you think you don’t have anything to write about, the moment you sit down and start your thought process, something’s going to come to you," said Estlund.  "So I think the idea is just putting yourself in the chair on a regular basis and writing."

A second consecutive day of 80 degree-plus weather has kept Seattle’s gorgeous summer intact for yet another day.  I feel kind of bad commenting on how nice things are here in our little slice of pacific northwest heaven when the east coast just experienced its largest earthquake in over 60 years and is currently in preparation for taking on Hurricane Irene by week’s end.  Though nothing compares to natural disasters, things are shaking up in the LexBlog Network.  Today’s roundup includes a whirlwind of change, including trademark woes for iconic designer shoes, political and legal reform in the deep south and of course the departure of Steve Jobs from Apple.  There is a lot going on today indeed.  On a more serious note, everyone here at LexBlog continues to send sincere thoughts and wishes to our friends on the east coast during this difficult time.  Also, check out Washington, D.C. attorney David Oxenford’s post on emergency communications during natural disasters.  

One of the biggest stories this summer has been the rape allegations against finance guru Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  Though all charges against Strauss-Kahn  were dropped this week, the LexBlog Network has found ways to make use of the case for interesting subject material (see Steve Berk’s hypothetical satire "What Do Kobe Bryant and Dominique Strauss-Kahn Have in Common?"). Michigan lawyer Jason Shinn’s post, which is featured in today’s BiLB list, has an interesting take on the case and how it applies to sexual harassment at work.  Check out Shinn’s post and the rest of today’s eclectic roundup on the LexBlog Network.

A dark Monday that seemed to signify the end of summer here in Seattle has redeemed itself on Tuesday with a beautiful sunny day.  A new day.  Everyday is a new day in the LexBlog Network and today’s roundup includes a bunch of first-time-featured authors on the BiLB list, including Seattle lawyer Stacia Lay of Hendricks & Lewis.  On a more serious note, everyone here at LexBlog would like to send our best wishes to our friends on the east coast who experienced an unexpected earthquake this afternoon.

 After one of the hottest weekends Seattle has seen this summer, it is a crime to wake up to gray skies and clouds on a Monday.  As the rain falls, so do the crime-riddled posts.  Today’s roundup includes crooked bankers, scamming companies, drunken employees, neglected children, unfair competition and of course, a guy who has 41 outstanding warrants.  Just another typical Monday afternoon in the LexBlog Network.  Enjoy.

In a criminal law blogosphere saturated with recycled nonsense and distasteful commentary, only the strong survive–and there are few more fit for survival than a Marine. Former United States Marine and current Phoenix criminal defense attorney Vladimir Gagic‘s blog, Arizona Criminal Law & Sex Crimes Post, has garnered attention that has translated to success for his practice.

"What some lawyers do is just report what others are saying and won’t offer (an) opinion," Gagic said. "If you want exposure or publicity I think it’s important to have a take. You have to have strong opinions so you’re not just repeating facts."

The aptly-titled Arizona Criminal Law & Sex Crimes Post covers stories that involve criminal matters such as major felonies and DUIs, but also subjects related to dangerous sexual crimes against children and the vulnerable. Gagic’s ability to tastefully assert an original and authoritative voice on such sensitive material is a distinct quality that sets him apart from the blogging masses.

"You have to be persuasive as a lawyer and it’s a good skill to have when it comes to writing," Gagic said. "I think people like to see, especially (in) criminal law, that you’re not just a hired gun, but a person who really cares about the profession."

Though Gagic started his own firm over five years ago, he created his blog in February. Gagic’s passions for justice, politics and his community shine through on his blog and have been constant, driving forces for both his professional and blogging careers.

"As a public defender I’m more aware of social issues and tend to write about them more because I don’t think someone can be a criminal defense lawyer and not concern themselves with social issues and the political environment," Gagic said. "I think those two go hand-in-hand."

Just as Gagic believes social awareness is complementary to the law, he finds Twitter complementary to blogging. The popular form of social media has given Gagic exposure to news and information that is typically void of his daily occurrences and has increased his awareness of important criminal law issues in his community.

"I use Twitter a lot," said Gagic.  "I like that I can check it while I am waiting at court or during commercial breaks while I’m watching (television)."

Mixing business and pleasure may not be the most typical business ally, but it has worked to Gagic’s advantage. A sports-related Twitter response to a popular local news anchor landed Gagic’s blog some crucial on-air time that has given way to business benefits in the form of new clients.

"I was following (the reporter) on Twitter and she asked a general question about the NFL Draft and then started following me (on Twitter)," said Gagic. "She saw the blog and after talking to her a few times she mentioned, on-air, that she reads my blog all the time and it has helped."

For Gagic, the road to new and exciting professional opportunities has been paved by blogging. He advises bloggers to key into their senses of originality and creativity to build a strong web presence. 

"(Blogging is) the way to market yourself online," said Gagic.  "I try to make sure my view point always comes across in my writing."

Many lawyers find it difficult to maintain blogs amid hectic schedules, but Chicago personal injury attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld believes blogging is a good opportunity to cultivate both his practice and his social network; and the success of both his blogs, Nursing Homes Abuse Blog and Child Injury Laws Blog, are testaments to Rosenfeld’s professional growth.

"(Blogging) has been the most important professional tool I’ve had as a lawyer," said Rosenfeld.  "It (has) opened the door for a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had without it."

In 2007, Rosenfeld started the Nursing Homes Abuse Blog while practicing with Chicago firm Strellis & Field. The popular blog helped establish Rosenfeld as a nationally-recognized legal expert on elderly care and was the catalyst for a busy 2010 in which Rosenfeld started his own firm, Rosenfeld Injury Law, and tested the blogging waters at the opposite end of the life spectrum with the creation of the Child Injury Laws Blog.

"There are a lot of similarities between children and infants and the elderly," said Rosenfeld. "They are all very vulnerable groups, and I represented a lot of children at the time and saw a big crossover that I wanted to engage as well."

While the topics of Rosenfeld’s blogs draw similarities, it is his blogging abilities that set him apart from other personal injury attorneys.

"For some reason, personal injury law tends to attract people who are more aggressive or more entrepreneurial," Rosenfeld said.  "It’s part of the business and the one thing you have to do is differentiate yourself in some respect and there are only so many different things you can do.  When you have the opportunity to blog, it translates a lot about who you are not just a lawyer, but as a person."

A consummate professional by nature, Rosenfeld has found both personal and professional growth through blogging, as he has become a more active and informed reader with a broadened perspective.

"Before blogging, there was no way that I was actively engaged in areas of law that I am practicing now," said Rosenfeld.  "When you’re maintaining a blog and looking for material all the time you’re reading more material and on a more regular basis."

Creating original, concise and informative posts almost daily, Rosenfeld starts his workday with less than an hour of blogging. Sticking to a strict schedule allows him to focus the rest of his day on building his practice.

"It comes down to where your priorities are and it almost (becomes) second nature," Rosenfeld said.  "I have found that people who are really interested in blogging have their finger (on) the pulse of new developments particular to their area of law."

Having content posted on the important developments in personal injury law relative to children and the elderly is what makes Rosenfeld’s blogs popular with readers, as he regularly receives calls from not only clients, but readers with various legal questions and inquiries.

"The people who tend to contact me are the people who have read my blog(s) and have done a lot of research themselves before they initiated contact," Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld admits that blogging is a lot of work, but staying committed makes things come together in the long run.  His advice to bloggers is to remember that blogging is a process and patience is essential for success.

"You have to be patient and work hard and try to be yourself," said Rosenfeld.  "Sometimes it can be frustrating, but you’re going to improve.  It takes a while to find your voice and where you’re at, but it comes."

The first week of August has been a picture-perfect representation of what summer in the Pacific Northwest should be and not even today’s gray skies can keep Seattleites from the anticipation of a promising Seafair weekend.  The promising additions to the LexBlog Network include a familiar face, a popular forum that predates blogging and a newbie.  Like the Blue Angels, I better jet before I get stuck in the traffic they cause. Have a safe and wonderful weekend everyone!

  • Published by David Donoghue of Chicago’s Holland & Knight, is Retail Patent Litigation.  As a patent trial litigator and partner with the firm’s Intellectual Property Group, Donoghue narrows his focus to address the major trends and issues that effect retailers and their supply chains with the same depth and ardor as his award-winning Chicago IP Litigation Blog, which is also on the LexBlog Network.
  • Created in 1988 by Judge Vincent A. Bifferato, Sr., The Delaware Trial Practice Forum has withstood various platform changes to join the blogging community.  The forum provides continuing legal education and opportunities for up-and-coming lawyers to network with experienced attorneys as they build knowledge and comfort within the landscape of Delaware’s legal system.  Bifferato, Sr. is a former Delaware Superior Court senior Judge who speaks at many forums and various other engagements throughout the state.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is the Utah Appellate Blog from Salt Lake City’s Zimmerman Jones Booher.  The blog is published by partner Troy Booher and is the first blog from the boutique firm.  Along with reports on cases that appear before both the Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Court of Appeals, readers can expect original analysis and statistical information on Utah’s appellate judges and courts.

 

Leaving the comfort and safety of a career with established law firms, Florida appellate attorney Dan Bushell recently started his own practice, and his blog, Florida Appellate Review, has been a brilliant tool for networking and client development.

"I wanted to focus more exclusively on appellate work and I wanted to be my own boss and start my own thing rather than be a cog in a larger organization," Bushell said.

After spending more than eight years litigating multi-million dollar cases under the clemencies of sizable firms, Bushell went solo in March and his coinciding blog, which launched April, has been a major focal point for building a rapport with locals. 

"I (am) good at what I do but I wasn’t so well known in local communities because I had been litigating cases around the country," Bushell said. "Getting my work out on the Internet for people to see would help to grow my reputation locally."

Though Bushell is new to blogging, his blog-savvy wife and reading the blogs of other lawyers have taught him the importance of utilizing the medium for business development.

"I’m familiar with the concept of the blog network and how (it) can be a very important marketing tool," Bushell said. "I had followed blogs for a while and seen how they had helped certain practitioners really grow their practice." 

As the sole attorney of his firm, Bushell has to be twice as creative when it comes to marketing, and his ability to connect with fellow bloggers and lawyers has added clout to networking in his target communities.

"Whenever I’m reaching out to someone on the person-to-person level, I refer them back to my blog so they can see who I am and what I know and what I can do," said Bushell, "so the two really go hand-in-hand for me."

Florida Appellate Review features Bushell’s fresh analysis on issues of interest that arise from various Florida courtroom cases. The blog is the "heart" of Bushell’s web presence–and his presence has been felt throughout the legal blogging community–as his unique writing style has garnered attention from online publications that include Overlawyered and the Daily Business Review; which has created client meetings and lawyer referrals.

"I’ve used (blogging) as a social networking tool to try to directly engage other people who are active on the Internet to start developing relationships," Bushell said. "(The) relationships (have) resulted in business for me."

Maintaining a professional blog can be a full-time job in itself. When added to the pressures of running a start-up firm, work quality can become jeopardized, but adherence to a schedule keeps Bushell on top of his game. He devotes the work week to cases and client development and prepares for the upcoming week with Sunday blog posts.

Bushell’s regimen may intimidate some, but the same drive and focus that goes into his entrepreneurial legal pursuits are what allow him to give serious time and consideration to blogging.

"You have to put in the time that you need to put together a blog post that you can can be proud of," said Bushell, "(it) goes a long way."

In the short time he has been blogging, Bushell has certainly produced a body of work he can be proud of. He advises fellow bloggers to have intent and passion to keep blog posts interesting and engaging to readers.

"Everything I’ve written about is something I could get passionate (about) and really dig into," said Bushell, "and I think that’s where the blog can really add something to the knowledge of what’s out there–when you’re able to invest yourself in what you’re writing as opposed to just reciting facts."