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.


Rather than establish company values for LexBlog, I thought it better to memorialize the values that have guided us over the last fourteen years.

In other words, what’s brung us this far together?

Over a few days, okay a few months, I gathered my thoughts, sought feedback and memorialized our values by sharing them in a meeting with my team this summer.

Trying to massage the values for the perfect words the last month or two was only an excuse for not sharing them with you and my teammates in writing by now.

Well, here we go. Six values that have guided LexBlog and that I trust will guide us for years to come. 

We care, we compete, we own it, we engage, we have fun, and we stay fit.

Care

  • We care for others on our team and for those we are honored to serve.
  • We make a difference in the lives of those working within the legal industry and the public which it serves.

Compete

  • We look to achieve a level of professional excellence in all we do, individually and as an organization.
  • Being the best does not stand in the way of moving forward.

Own it

As an entrepreneurial organization we define the work required to be done in our role. We look for resources and ideas, but do not look for others to do our work. 

Engage

Engagement online and offline is essential to learning, establishing trust, building relationships, and realizing one’s potential and dreams.

Have fun

Fun and competition to achieve a level of professional excellence are not mutually exclusive – they run hand in hand. Nothing is more fun than measuring success by the number of people we help.

Stay fit

Staying physically and mentally fit enables us to live these values and achieve our goals.


I am off to Boston for the College of Law Practice Management (COLPM) event on Friday evening, the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Conference on Thursday and Friday and to meet with a few Boston folks before heading home on Saturday – hopefully before the nor’easter they’re predicting to hit Boston this weekend.

I don’t know much about COLPM, other than folks appear to like to dress up in Tuxedos and fine dresses for pictures to be shared on social media. I’ll confess I turned my tuxedo in after my wedding thirty-sum years ago.

Seriously though, I was asked to join COLPM by my friend and long standing LexBlog customer, Patrick Lamb, who is one of the real forces in innovation and change in the delivery of legal services. When Pat says COLPM members can be agents of change in the business of the law, I am all ears.

In addition COLPM members include some real fine people, many I know and others I’ll have the privilege of getting to know. Their Futures Conference on Thursday will involve some talented professionals presenting and discussing cybersecurity in large law and corporations.

LMA is really taking things to a new level for its members and members of the legal marketing/business development professionals as a whole

Regional topic specific conferences provide outstanding educational opportunities as well as an opportunity for passionate, experienced and caring professionals to raise their profiles through presenting.

Legal marketing professionals may have been perceived by many law firms as not integral to the executive leadership, but no longer.

The business of law and the manner in which legal services are delivered are rapidly changing. Marketers and business development professionals, which by their nature are looking outward, are key to stragetic planning for law firms.

LMA plays a key role in educating legal marketing professionals in what they need to know in playing leadership roles and how to navigate what can only described as dysfunctional management structures at many law firms.

Legal marketing is also not an easy field and change at firms effecting one’s position and employment can happen in a minute. Building a name and relationships through present and networking at the growing number of LMA events is important.

Bottom line, for LexBlog and I, it’s all about relationships in the legal business, and any business. Getting to Boston gives me the ability to spend time with friends in the industry and to make new friends.

It’s the relationships with friends in the business which empowers LexBlog in evangelizing the importance of improving access to legal services through blogging and in recruiting law firm members to our growing global legal blogging community.

Though paying for a room during the World Series ate into into my budget for buying beers and dinners for folks.

Please do let me know if you are in Boston and would like to get together to talk busines or for for pleasure. You van email me at kevin@lexblog.com, text/call me at 206-321-3627 or reach me on social media.  

A snappy 10 hour flight yesterday and I was back in Seattle from London where I attended the Legal Geek Law Tech Conference, met with law firms and introduced LexBlog to The Law Society.

I said it last year, and this next year I’ll follow through on it — that being to get to London, regularly, to expand LexBlog’s international reach and influence.

It’s important not only for LexBlog to expand markets globally, but for LexBlog to evangelize the cause of legal blogging, worldwide, for both the democratization of legal publishing and making legal services more accessible. 

The UK, and I suspect the rest of the world, is dealing with the same crisis in access to legal services as the States. Lawyers/solicitors are becoming irrelevant to the majority of consumers and small business people. This erodes not only citizens’ legal rights but the very business of lawyers. Legal blogging establishes trust and communication between lawyers and people narrowing this divide.

UK based large law firms and lawyers in these firms are struggling with how to effectively publish through the net for business development and building a name. Many are blindly publishing content, pushing it out and hoping something comes of it for business development.

Most large firms are using, some knowingly, others not, antiquated publishing software that’s not being updated on any regular basis.

LexBlog has the opportunity to help these firms with our managed WordPress publishing platform. We could save them money and time, improve security and performance, improve ease of use, increase syndication/visibility and enable integration of their blogs and other publishing with their websites – all without delayed website development limiting regular updates and feature enhancements.

The Legal Geek Law Tech Conference was nothing short of amazing. 2,000 attendees from 40 countries, 100 speakers across multiple stages, countless legal tech companies displaying their solutions in booths set up in a down to earth garage like setting, and legal professionals from large firms, small firms and major companies. 

Beyond the educational side, the networking opportunities at a European conference are outstanding. Chatting with lawyers, legal tech entrepreneurs and executives in major companies from the UK, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and other countries is something you don’t get at U.S. conferences. 

Talking to people from overseas not only leads to relationships for business development, but also gives one a different perspective on the law, legal services and legal technology.

As a result, just today, I was introducing, via Twitter, a Swiss legal tech company founder to the general counsel of a highly successful and heavily funded U.S. legal tech company.

I wanted to meet with folks with The Law Society for a few reasons. One to introduce them to LexBlog – what we do and what we stand for. I figured they’d hear about us as we started “knocking on doors.”

Secondly I wanted to see if there were ways LexBlog could help The Law Society and their member solicitors. In that we liberally support good causes, law students, law schools and access to the delivery of legal services, I thought there may be some common ground.

Third, I wanted to get their feedback as to introducing LexBlog’s free legal blogging community and the solutions we offer to UK law firms.

I’ll confess traveling overseas for work makes for an attractive “vacation,” with Mrs. RL and I traveling together. Heck, just walking/taking the underground from one meeting to the next is an experience in and of itself – the sites and the people were great.

One successful lawyer, looking to expand her influence in fashion law across Europe, even met us at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum for coffee and to show us around limited viewing areas.

The scary part in this travel is that I am home for only today before heading out to Boston for College of Law Practice Management and Legal Marketing Association conferences and meeting law firms. Only a 5 hour flight there though.

The cause is good in all this travel — shining a light on legal bloggers, worldwide, and improved access to legal services.

I came home from Clio’s annual Cloud Conference (Clio Con) in New Orleans on Saturday a little tired and a little hoarse.

Little question that Clio Con is solidifying its place as one of the best, if not the best, legal conference. A big thanks to Jack Newton and the entire Clio team. 100 Clio team members traveled from Vancouver to work the conference so the commitment to over the top customer service was evident everywhere.

Four big takeaways for me. One, the impact of Clio’s integration program; two, the relevance of Clio Con for all lawyers and legal professionals, young and old; three, Clio’s recognizing the good work of lawyers; and four, the growing group of good friends I have in the legal tech community.

Clio has talked integration with third party solutions for a couple years, but boy has integration arrived.

Over 150 apps, solutions and products now integrate with the Clio platform. People are quitting their jobs to work on new companies they have founded for the sole purpose of integrating with Clio.

When I asked one legal tech founder how he was getting to market, he just pointed to the Clio exhibit floor. I thought he meant those lawyers walking the exhibit floor, but he meant the 150,000 Clio users – that was his company’s market.

Imagine building your company to have an ecosystem like this. Clio has done it. Over a hundred companies and hundreds of people (not employed by your company) building solutions that make Clio stickier and stickier and getting Clio closer to being a must have for lawyers and law firms.

Clio continues to double done in integration applications. Last year Clio announced it would start making investments in third party integrations. This year, Tali, a voice activated time tracking assistant, was awarded $100,000 for winning Clio’s first Launch Code contest.

Clio Con’s not just for geeks and the futurist in your office. Clio Con is for all lawyers and legal professionals – no matter their age or experience with tech.

A friend of mine from Seattle doing plaintiff’s IP litigation has been practicing for over 35 years. I remarked to him that a lot of the attendees were as young as our kids.

He responded that he really liked the conference – enjoyed the sessions, picked up info from companies he may use and being a solo, he enjoyed the interaction and camaraderie with other lawyers.

Legal tech conferences often miss the essence of the law. Real lawyers representing real people – consumers and small business people. Not Clio Con. Clio is moving from practice management to the delivery of legal services itself and the experience delivered to the consumer of legal services.

In its Riesman awards, individual law firms were recognized for innovation, growth, community service and being the best new law firm in front of over a thousand people watching some pretty moving videos of these firms and their teams.

One of the best things about Clio Con is spending time, be it brief and a bit frantic while all of us are working there, is spending a few days with friends – who just happen to be some of the leading legal tech people in the country – lawyers, law professors, company founders, reporters and more.

They’ve become good friends and we only see each other a couple or three times a year. Clio Con has probably become our largest gathering place.

If you haven’t attended Clio Con, consider doing so. Ideas, inspiration, camaraderie and finding yourself square in the middle of the future and a company bringing you that future are good reasons to come to San Diego next October.

I was in Chicago this week, speaking at a couple of law schools.

The topic? How law students can use blogging and social media for learning, building relationships and building a name.

The more I speak at law schools, the more I realize law students and law schools are much like lawyers and law firms when it comes to blogging and other social media.

There is the understandable fear of doing something that will leave an indelible mark, the fear of not knowing perfectly what you are doing (learning by trial and error is not usually done in the law nor promoted in law school), and the difficulty of being openly real and authentic.

It’s hit and miss from law school to law school as to whether students are receptive to the message of networking through the Internet via social media and blogging.

Those schools with law professors, deans and career development professionals acting as role models on social media and blogging and with educational programs in this regard are way ahead of the game. The students at their schools are receptive, want to learn and want to get started.

And unfortunately, just like lawyers, most law students are not willing to put in the time to distinguish themselves. That’s real disappointing as the need to develop a personal brand and be seen as willing to assert oneself is ever increasing.

My visiting school to school, repetitively, doesn’t really scale. It’s going to take boots on the ground in the form of knowledgeable and experienced law students at the law schools with the support from the mothership in Seattle – LexBlog.

Westlaw has had student reps, and so has LexNexis. We’re seeing newer legal tech companies such as casetext with student reps.

LexBlog student reps could be at a law school to help a fellow student spin up for a free professional blog in minutes through the expedited LexBlog system. They could show fellow students the social media to use from Twitter, Facebook, to  LinkedIn and how to use these networking tools effectively.

I raised the idea of a LexBlog representative at one of the schools yesterday. The idea was very well received by a law professor. In fact, seen as possibly more valuable to students than services from other organizations with student representatives.

It will be very special to see the progression of law students building a name and relationships while in law school by networking through the net.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll teach lawyers and law schools a thing or two.

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.

I was reminded by a Facebook post from technologist and the founder of blogging, Dave Winer, that law blogs need to be hosted for perpetuity.

Here’s something basic. If you host blogs, you have an ethical obligation to try to keep the archive online for perpetuity. This allows for bankruptcy or acts of war or god, and mortality, but if you’re not committed to best efforts, then don’t host.

If blogs are not archived and made available for reading forever, we’ve lost someone’s insight and commentary. The links to such a blog’s posts would be lost. Citations to such a blog would be meaningless.

Imagine if we threw away all the law journal/review articles and legal treatises when the author stopped writing or passed. We got their works off the library shelves and tossed them into the dumpster.

Every citation to their works in briefs, court decisions (trial and appellate), briefs, and other journals and treatises would be “dead.”

At first glance, you may think, “So what, someone stops legal blogging or passes, their law blog goes away. Who needs it for posterity sake, other than maybe their relatives?”

We also have a ton of junk and marginal copy out their in the form of law blogs.

Law blogs, once exclusively lawyers reporting on legal developments and exchanging insight and comments to advance legal dialogue, have become the home of many “content marketers.” Rather than legal commentary and news, we have marketers and PR people penning content for lawyers merely to garner search engine rankings and website traffic.

But at the end of the day, we have a ton of good legal insight and commentary being penned by thousands of legal professionals, world-wide. It’s coming on just about every legal topic under the sun, certainly more topics are being covered than in the days before publishing was democratized by blogging.

The blog posts are directed to consumers, business people, in-house counsel, practicing lawyers, judges, law porofessors, law students, law librarians, legal industry suppliers and legal innovators and entrepreneurs.

These posts are regularly cited by other bloggers, mainstream publishers and presenters.

Perhaps more significantly these posts are cited by courts and lawyers in submissions to the court. Not as primary law, but as secondary law, just as law reviews, journals and treatises are cited. Blogs, for that matter, are replacing law reviews and law journals altogether.

Beyond citations by courts and to courts, we need a history of legal news and commentary to search and call upon in our work to advance the law. The history cannot be tossed.

Perpetual hosting may be done by government or quasi-governmental bodies, such as libraries. I believe the Library of Congress already archives a good number of law blogs.

Private companies, such as LexBlog, with business models, in part supported by archiving and syndicating legal blogs are a good possibility as well. We are in the process of archiving and syndicating legal blogs penned by close to 20,000 legal professionals. I don’t see us tossing blog posts.

Hosting costs, not insignificant, are certainly decreasing.

Winer’s right. Blogs need to be archived online for perpetuity.

Facebook will cede its runner-up position in website traffic to YouTube in the next couple of months, according to a new study shared with CNBC by market research firm SimilarWeb.

From CNBC:

The five websites receiving the most traffic in the U.S. in the last several years have been Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Amazon, in that order. However, Facebook has seen a severe decline in monthly page visits, from 8.5 billion to 4.7 billion in the last two years, according to the study. Although Facebook’s app traffic has grown, it is not enough to make up for that loss, the study said.

The Facebook drop is pretty apparaent when charted. 

Facebook has been growing in plenty of markets abroad and Facebook users are now spending more time on other Facebook owned platforms, including Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

YouTube is growing, in part, because of increased use on platforms like Chromecast and Smart TVs.

Facebook’s slide doesn’t matter to lawyers — at least those lawyers who grow their business by nurturing relationships and building a name.

Facebook is where more people engage more people than anywhere – online or offline. YouTube is great, but’s a democratized broadcasting platform. Broadcasting is a far cry from listening/reading and commenting in response.

Facebook is a conversation among business colleagues, friends, relatives, and community members. It’s where we hear of a customer’s wedding anniversary celebration and a business partner’s oldest child graduating from college. It’s where we receive news and commentary on a recent legal or business development — and join in the ensuing discussion.

Just yesterday Daniel Rodriguez shared (not announced) on Facebook that with his role complete as Dean at Northwestern Law School he will be headed to Stanford Law School for the fall semester. Likes and comments congratulating him and welcoming him to California ensued from colleagues and friends.

Rodriguez wouldn’t think of leaving the professional and personal interaction with people on Facebook anymore than he would think of leaving Twitter, where he is a force of nature in driving discussuion among innovators in the law, world-wide.

For lawyers and other professionals using Facebook, the discussion only gets richer as we connect and engage to get to know people better, to learn and to build a reputation.

Sure there are those who fear Facebook. They’ll look at the news of Facebook’s website traffic decline as validation that Facebook is evil or a waste of time.

It doesn’t matter to the increasing number of legal professionals who see the growing value of Facebook.

Marketing consultant and author, Euan Semple writes that marketers and “professional communicators” have polluted our networks with industrialized social media.

He’s right.

Not only has social media drifted from real and authentic engagement as means of making strangers less strange, we have consultants teaching industrialized social media as the way of the land and companies selling industrialized social media as a service.

  • Share your blog posts this way and that way.
  • Use the right image.
  • Use these magic words.
  • Run analytics on what and when you share to garner data on the right people, the right mediums, the right words and the right times.
  • Here’s prepackaged articles for sharing.
  • Have us share your “words,” you’re too busy. You don’t even need to know how to log into your social media accounts – or that you even have a social media account, for that matter.
  • Sharing the same items across multiple people’s social media accounts – for maximum effect, of course.
  • Rather than you getting to know and learn from the thought leaders and influencers, we’ll get to “know them” and build relationships with them for you.
  • We’ll write your blog posts and share them for you.
  • Not to worry about engaging other people on social media, social media is for broadcasting your stuff to get “them” to come to your website.

This type of stuff would be funny if it weren’t true.

At times, I feel like Euan.

Sometimes I feel like giving up, conceding defeat to the marketers and “professional communicators” who have polluted our networks with industrialised social media.

Like Euan though, social media done “un-industrialized” style has its wonderful moments.

But then a post will trigger a cracking conversation, a podcast will open up a whole new perspective, a moment of online vulnerability will remind me our shared humanity.

And I’m with Euan, I’m not giving up and I’m not giving into industrialized social media.

Getting to personally know so many fine people who add value to my life in multiple ways in a genuine and authentic fashion is just too valuable to give up.