The CEO of LexisNexis, Mike Walsh received a letter this last week from Michael Best’s James Fieweger, a former Asssiatant U.S. Attorney skilled in criminal and state and federal investigations.

A letter accusing Walsh’s company of anticompetitive sales practices and asking that it cease those practices and enter into a dialog with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) leaders, “as opposed to legal or commercial action.”

AALL is the only national association dedicated to the legal information profession and its professionals. Founded over a century ago on the belief that people —lawyers, judges, students, and the public—need timely access to relevant legal information to make sound legal arguments and wise legal decisions.

Its almost 5,000 members are problem solvers of the highest order from major law firms, law libraries, law schools and various state, federal and municipal bodies. AALL fosters the profession by offering its members knowledge, leadership, and community that make the whole legal system stronger.

What won’t LexisNexis talk about with these 5,000 customers and their representatives? LexisNexis’ practice of tying alleged lesser products to products in greater demand. Want the later, buy the former too.

As LexBlog’s editor-in-chief and publisher, Bob Ambrogi reports:

…[F]irms have historically been able to purchase from LexisNexis the publications and services that fit their needs. They could, for example, purchase specialized materials such as Moore’s Federal Practice, various treatises, or analytical tools such as Lex Machina, without having to license Lexis Advance.

No more says LexisNexis, per Fieweger,

Since July 2017, however, AALL has received numerous reports from law firm-affiliated members that LexisNexis has adopted a new sales policy. Under the new policy, firms are required to purchase a license to Advance before they can purchase access to other LexisNexis publications and products. And those firms that do not wish to purchase Advance, for whatever reason, have been foreclosed from accessing other products they have used in their practice for years and, in some cases, for decades.

AALL has attempted to discuss this potentially illegal tying arrangement, but as the letter to Walsh states, “to date, LexisNexis’ response has been vague, incomplete, and unsatisfactory, evincing no interest or intent to revoke or otherwise modify the practice in question.”

We’re not talking small law firms that LexisNexis is kissing off.  Jean O’Grady, senior director of information, research and knowledge services at DLA Piper and former chair of the Private Law Libraries Section of AALL, reports from her blog that she’s seen LexisNexis take “an increasingly combative stance” in contract negotiations with customers like her firm.

Greg Lambert, chief knowledge services officer at Jackson Walker, shares on his blog, that what LexisNexis is doing in tying Advance and other products such as Law360 is going to serve as a wake up call to firm leaders that LexisNexis is harming the industry and is only trying to prop up a product that cannot stand on its own.

If LexisNexis were talking and listening to its customers, they’d not be exerting this “kiss off, we’ve got a monopoly” approach.

It’s not just at the sales and business development level where LexisNexis folks are refusing to talk, it’s an attitude that’s top down from company leadership.

I’m not sure I know what Mike Walsh looks like, let alone have I ever read one of his blog posts, mutually shared thoughts with him on Twitter or engaged him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

If not Walsh, who then in LexisNexis leadership engages folks on the Internet. Who develops trust for the company? Who gets out and shows that the company cares? Who from LexisNexis has engaged leaders in the library and knowledge field enough that that these folks enjoy taking your call or having a drink with you at next month’s AALL annual conference.

I get it. “I’m the CEO. I’m the Executive VP of Sales. I don’t have time to get out and engage customers and their influencers such as O’Grady and Lambert on the Internet. I don’t even know how. I have marketing and communications folks handling that.”

What you’re really saying is that I am going to push, trick, and cajole our mediocre products into your hands at as a high a price as a I can get. If that doesn’t work, I’ll force you to take my mediocre stuff by tying it to stuff you really want.

Those days are dead. Marketing and selling today is an online conversation establishing trust and relationships.

It would be great to see Walsh at the AALL annual mingling with customers. Perhaps set up a time to field questions.

Ambrogi is the leading reporter and commenator in legal tech and innovation. He’s known and trusted by AALL members.  I’m sure Ambrogi would be happy to sit down with Walsh for an interview on Facebook Live or otherwise.

In face of what O’Grady calls a revolt by the AALL, “LexisNexis should open up about its policies,” says Ambrogi. “Neither it nor its customers are well served by its keeping its lips sealed.”

Ambrogi’s right. LexisNexis owes the legal profession that much.

The vanity marketing for lawyers is a huge one.

The latest entry comes from  U.S. News & World Report which announced in a press release last week that, in partnership with Best Lawyers, it is releasing an online legal directory of lawyers.

The directory will start with less than 100,000 lawyers, but will eventually include over 1.3 million private-practice lawyers. It is not clear whether law firm and bar association sites will be “scrapped” to get lawyer listings or whether the directory listings are being supplied by Best Lawyers. Law firms can, of course, supply information and there is a FAQ on the site for more info.

Client reviews will not be included, unless a lawyer pays $30 a month for a premium profile.

Best Lawyers media relations manager, Katie Morgan, tells the ABA Journal, lawyers can delete the reviews they don’t like, “and decide which ones, if any, to publish on their profile,”

In addition to being able to publish favorable reviews, lawyers paying the $30 a month may display rankings and awards with their profile in “ an ad-free experience.” Presumably this means that ads from competing lawyers and law firms will be sold around the directory listings of non-paying lawyers.

Lawyers will pay for this listing. The more directory listings the better for many lawyers. The more online walls to hang their plaques and awards. Better yet, for $30 a month, you get a valuable link back to your website for SEO. A link from an influential news authority like U.S. News was.

The press release says the comprehensive guide will serve as a valuable resource for consumers seeking legal assistance. But how valuable is the information to people and businesses when selecting a lawyer?

Tim Smart, executive editor of U.S. News, says:

U.S. News helps millions of people each year make complex decisions, from finding the right hospital or doctor to identifying the best college, online program or graduate school. We’re delighted to team up with Best Lawyers to offer our audience new legal resources.

U.S. News bills itself as “the global authority in rankings and consumer advice.” Best Lawyers® bills itself as “the world’s only purely peer-review™ guide to top talent in the legal profession.”

“The global authority” and “the world’s only purely peer-review.” I don’t know.

And look at the standard for lawyers getting into the directory.

Inclusion in the Lawyer Directory is solely based on whether an attorney is currently working in private practice. A lawyer does not need to be ranked by U.S. News or Best Lawyers to appear on the site, and there is no charge for a lawyer’s basic information to appear in the U.S. News Lawyer Directory.

A lawyer in private practice needs to be breathing to qualify for inclusion in the directory.

Where does it stop and couldn’t we, as lawyers and law firms, do better?

I get the need for directories – maybe. But more of them? And to cast your directory as special and authoritative, which this one doesn’t appear to be.

As a lawyer, why not use the Internet in a little more constructive way – by helping businesses and individuals and building a name for yourself – rather than buying vanity.

Legal tech and innovation conferences universally bill themselves as bringing the best and brightest together to discuss and advance innovation and technology.

Some say their conference will break down the silos and build connections across a fragmented industry, where everyone across the country and the world is well intentioned, but not collaborating.

Others say they’ll bring together the industry’s leaders, innovators and peers to collaborate so as to bring greater access to legal services.

All good, but only a tiny fraction of the industry’s leaders attend. And don’t get me started on the “leaders,” who with their public relations people, pay to be included on a panel or two.

When I have contacted legal tech and innovation conferences this year, I don’t recall any being live streamed. One was, but they were charging (I got free access as widely followed on social media, others did not).

If the conferences truly believed in their mission to advance legal innovation and technology — and to bring the industry leaders together for greater collaboration, they’d live stream their event and make it available for free.

Live streaming is not one of those things that you throw off till next year because of the complications. Live stream via an iPhone and iPad on Facebook Live – for free. It’s not hard.

Most conferences have an expensive recording crew manning expensive recording equipment for videos that will or may be available later on. When is later on? Do hundreds of industry leaders who did not attend call, and presumably pay, for videos a month or two after the conference?

I was at an Avvo confernce in 2017 attended by 700 pepople that was live streamed to the world via Facebook Live by one person using an app call Switcherstudio. I believe he used a couple iPads and an iPhone so he could do split shots and zoom in on slides.

Your Facebook Live video would be posted immediately after its live presentation. You can also “pull” it from Facebook and publish it to YouTube. The YouTube embed will allow you to have the session videos on your site by the end of the day.

You want to go really wild, you spend a hundred and fifty bucks and you get all the videos transcribed with the transcripts posted to your site by the next day.

Ideas, minds and innovation live far beyond the four walls of a conference center or hotel ballroom. Why wouldn’t you want to include those minds? Why wouldn’t you want instant collaboration with those minds via social media.

Open things live online and you’ll attract the thinking of those not viewed as “the leaders” and those who don’t have the money for flights and hotel rooms.

You open up thinking to those world-wide. The legal tech and innovation community in the U.S., other than those selling products overseas, is pretty myopic. The U.S. is a small place when talking tech. Live stream and you’ll get people watching and participating from around the world.

If you’re thinking that you can’t live-stream for free as it will cost you paying attendees, that’s plain dumb. If anything your conference will be talked about more ahead of time and afterwards, only increasing attendance in year one and subsequent years.

If you’re an association such as a bar assoction or other network where propfessionals pay dues, you owe it to members to live stream. You’ll also make yourselves more relevant.

Most importantly, we have a lot at stake here. 85% of people in the U.S. alone have no access to the delivery of legal services. And it’s not all about costs. It’s more about getting a functioning legal system out where people are – online and using innovative technology.

Presuming that by throwing “leaders” into conference rooms and having them go out for dinner and drinks (I enjoy it as much as anyone) is the fastest way to cross the chasm on the delivery of legal services is a little short-sighted. We need all hands on deck in an easy and effective way. Live streaming helps do that.

If you’re having a legal tech and innnovation conference, you, more than anyone, need to demonstrate your grasp of technology and innovation. You need to be liive streaming via Facebook Live.

Skimming through my Twitter legal feeds this afternoon I am struck by the webinars and podcasts on SEO for law firms. SEO demystified. The basics of SEO for lawyers. You name it.

If a Martian came down to earth (they soon will), they’d think the only way lawyers could get work was via something called SEO.

Anyone sharing good insight and commentary online should have their content found on search. That’s a given – and it will.

SEO, no matter what anyone says, is not overly complicated. You need to express insight and commentary (think write in a knowing and authentic fashion), index your content well for the search engines (primarily Google), and grow your influence.

I get that there are 83 other things you may want to worry about and work on from magic key words to meta description to local search.

But at the end of the day, for lawyers, aren’t we really talking about who has the better billboard, yellow page ad, television ad or radio ad? Who’s ad works better? Who pays the most to generate the most leads?

Don’t get me wrong, I bought plenty of ads as a plaintiff’s trial lawyer.

I just found the Internet a great way to avoid advertising. The Internet allowed guys like me in small towns to be one of those “real lawyers,” a “lawyer’s lawyer” and get a reputation and the cases I could have only dreamed of before the net.

So almost two decades into SEO for lawyers, it’s getting old seeing SEO being repeatedly pitched and bought when the Internet allows good lawyers, no matter their law school, no matter where they are located and no matter their resources to make a name for themselves.

I understand advertising is important for many lawyers. I also understand there are some very capable outfits helping lawyers with their SEO so as to deliver on the needed advertsing.

I just don’t understand every lawyer and every promoter of podcasts or webinars getting sucked into the tiring SEO for lawyers game.

This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of WordPress.

What started with the release of open source publishing software by Matt Mullenweg, then a freshman at the University of Houston, and a friend has grown to power over 30% of the top sites on the web.

Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg are known by nearly all for their disruption. But Mullenweg, with WordPress, is right with them.

Fifteen years ago ago, I was six months away from toying around with web publishing (blogging) in my garage. The concept of publishing to the web by everyone had been realized by few back then.

Little off the shelf publishing web software was available. Heck, I’m not sure many folks could see why they would even need it.

Few people were publishing blogs, mainstream publishers kept their monopoly with expensive proprietary publishing software and marketers and public relations agencies had yet to coin the phrase “content marketing” to save their jobs.

A short fifteen years later and Mullenweg’s original goal has been reached, publishing has been democratized. There’s other publishing software, much proprietary, but without WordPress, digital publishing, the heart of how we publish today, would not be at the disposal pf everyone.

WordPress powers 30% of all Websites in the world. WordPress powers 70% of all websites with a “content management solution” – that’s sites that are publishing.

No matter how you cut, that is extraordinary growth. Start from zero and run 70% of all web publishing in fifteen years.

Did Bill Gates and ‘Word’ close on “WordPerfect” word processing software that fast?

We’re going to see the day when WordPress is ubiquitous. When virtually all web publishing will be run on WordPress. Those who doubt it think back to those saying WordPerfect was better.

I may not have started LexBlog on WordPress but we’d not be empowering legal professionals, students and legal tech companies to shape the future of legal reporting and publishing without it.

LexBlog is but a drop in the WordPress bucket. Per Mullenweg:

There’s so much: A group of high school students bands together to build a national movement on WordPress; a president builds the foundation for his own next chapter on WordPress; the current switches over; or when someone like Hajj Flemings brings thousands of small businesses onto the open web for the first time, with WordPress.

And the key to it all is open source. WordPress, the legal profession and the web would not where it is today without Mullenweg’s and WordPress’ commitment to open source development.

Many in the open source world are like Moses in that they speak of the Promised Land but will never set foot there. If I spend the rest of my life working and we don’t reach almost all websites being powered by open source and the web being substantially open, I will die content because I already see younger generations picking up the banner.

LexBlog has the best WordPress development team anywhere upgrading and adding features to our core product. New aggregation and syndication products are being developed on WordPress. We’re being challenged by bar associations to develop a do it yourself website solution to sit on our WordPress platform.

All on WordPress and the best may be yet to come from WordPress’ Gutenberg release later this year.

Thanks for fifteen years, Matt. Here’s to the next fifteen.

A television lawyer groupie like I was during the OJ Simpson trial has to be pretty pumped to see ABC News’ Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams keynoting Avvo’s Lawyernomic’s 2018, which kicks off Tuesday morning in Las Vegas.

Abrahams covered the Simpson trial for Court TV, one of the channels I flipped through, with Gerry Spence on CNN and CNBC and Greta Van Susteren also on CNN. I learned more from these lawyers than I learned in law school and CLE’s. I also learned a lot about working with the media as a lawyer – something extremely helpful as a trial lawyer.

Serving as a legal analyst for the media for twenty five years, Abrams will provide insights into the pulse of consumer legal news today.

He’ll also discuss how independent publishing by lawyers (blogging and content marketing) can be a powerful tool in breaking down complex legal issues and connecting current and prospective clients with accessible legal solutions.

With a career in public service spanning three decades and a background in practicing law, Wendy Davis will share her passion for advocacy and her insights into the socially conscious consumer.

Davis is a former Texas state senator, a candidate for governor of Texas and the founder of Deeds Not Words, an advocacy initiative that empowers women and champions equal rights, education, and social justice for minority and LGBTQ communities.

Avvo founder and it former CEO, Mark Britton, will speak on the current and future state of the legal industry, and building connections between consumers and lawyers.

As the consumer market becomes increasingly segmented – by social behaviors, media consumption, device usage, and so on – it’s more important than ever that lawyers understand the needs of legal consumers. By building connections with industry experts and peers, lawyers can stay ahead of these changing demands and better serve their clients.

Beyond keynotes, Lawyernomics has a heck of lineup presenting educational sessions on client relations, reputation management, content marketing, blogging, social media, practice management, SEO and legal technology as well as interactive demonstrations of the latest Avvo products for lawyers in an onsite Avvo Lab.

Picking up on what other smart conferences have done, Lawyernomics is offering attendees expanded learning and networking discussions with presenters and thought leaders – I should have brought a LexBlog t-shirt to wear to lead a thought leader discussion.

With Internet Brands acquisition of Avvo, it’s to hard to know if Lawyernomics will continue. With few, if any conferences focused exclusively on marketing for consumer and small business, the opportunity is there. An announcment of next year’s conference would put the question to rest.

In the brief time I was at Martindale-Hubbell (then owner of, I pitched doing conferences for lawyers as a business development opportunity for us. They declined. Perhaps one of the reasons that Britton and Avvo wiped them out.

Looking forward to a couple nice days of seeing business friends and staying abreast of business development actives in individual and small business focused law.

Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.

This from Richard Granat, a true champion when it comes to harnessing innovation and technology to improve American’s access to legal services.

Granat shared this in a Facebook comment in reference to society’s leaving it to lawyers and lawyer controlled bar associations to decide how legal services are delivered in this country.

By and large, it’s bar associations that decide what innovation and legal technology gets used in the delivery of legal services. Not a great situation for the public when bar associations exist to represent the interests of lawyers who earn by time, not efficiency.

Granat is not alone.

Gillian Hadfield, a leading proponent of the reform and redesign of legal systems and a Professor at USC Law School, commented this week on bar associations limiting access to legal services in, of all places, the American Bar Association’s Law Technology Today magazine.

A week ago, Mary Juetten, co-founder of Evolve Law and founder and CEO of Traklight, a self-guided IP strategy platform, wrote about bar associations driving small legal tech companies out of business on the pretense that legal tech business models violate the unauthorized practice of law rules.

Juetten questioned what the bar associations were actually protecting.

I have some great friends working with and for bar associations. LexBlog has the honor of working with any number of bar associations.

But should bar associations be deciding what is and what is not legal services that require a lawyer? Are bar associations, by restricting what they describe as legal services to being administered by lawyers, just making lawyers more and more irrelevant to individuals and small businesses?

Is it possible that bar associations by looking to protect lawyers are actually hurting lawyers? With less people looking for legal services administered the way they are, there is less and less work for lawyers. We’re already seeing less lawyers.

While the American Bar Association and state bar associations look to be the hub of discussion on access to legal services, and even innovation and legal technology, there is a growing sentiment that bars may be the reason for the increasing chasm we have in access to legal services.

Robert Ambrogi, LexBlog’s editor-chief and publisher and former editor of the National Law Journal, explained a couple months ago to a Chicago gathering of legal professionals discussing an effort to bring access to legal services, that the American Bar Association and many bar associations could not lead the effort because of their role as a trade organization.

Juetten may well be right that it’s not an “either or” situation, as she tweeted immediately after I published my post. In the absence of another body, bar associations could include non lawyers and private companies on their governing boards.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m with Granat. “Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.

Syndication as we’ve come to known it is akin to the TV show Seinfeld. When the show ended in 1998, folks like me saw it for the first time in reruns on various stations other than NBC, where it originally ran.

In a nice piece on content syndication and blogs, Brendan Barron explains the basics, basics largely applied by LexBlog as we build a legal news and information network by curating/syndicating legal blogs world-wide.

[S]omeone makes a copy of content that was originally published elsewhere and then uses it on their own WordPress website. So, for your purposes, content syndication could mean that you import someone else’s content into your site (which is probably what most of you will do). It also means that you could loan out your own content to others.

When Seinfeld gives Seattle’s Channel 11 permission to run his shows in syndication, there’s no copyright infringement. Same for blogs.

When someone willingly grants permission for others to use their blog posts in syndication, and proper attribution is provided to the original author and source, there shouldn’t be any problems with violating copyright law.

For bloggers, Barron says content syndication is greatly beneficial.

  • Their content now has the opportunity to be introduced to a new audience.
  • They’re receiving free promotion of content on another platform that requires zero work on their part.
  • They receive a a new backlink to to their blog from a highly influential source, growing the influence of their blog and improving its seach performance. [last point on search added by me]

In the case of LexBlog, add delivering the blog posts to legal research services such as Fastcase and further syndicating posts via email newsletters and social media.

What about duplicate content confusing the search engines and possibly causing your blog to rank lower than the syndication source?

No question syndicated content is duplicate content, it’s content indentical to something that already exists online and is already indexed by the search engines.

There’s a good reason search engines hate duplicate content, per Barron,

To put it plainly, it’s because duplicate content is usually a sign of unwarranted use of someone else’s work (i.e. plagiarism). In this case, however, that clearly is not your intention as you’re publishing content with a direct attribution back to the original writer and source. That said, Google’s bots aren’t smart enough to know that an arrangement was made.

What’s the answer?

[Y]ou need to somehow communicate to search engines that the duplicate content is not to be indexed or ranked (since that privilege belongs to the source). After all, you don’t need to rank for this page.

As Barron explains, you can communicate this to search engines in a couple different ways.

  1. Add a Canonical Tag. A canonical tag is one you place in the header of the syndicated content page. It tells search bots, “Hey, I don’t deserve any of this praise. Can you guys please just give it all to this person over here?”
  2. Update the robots.txt. If you simply want to keep the search engines away from this page, you can instead use the robots.txt file in the root directory.

LexBlog will use the canonical approach. Our goal is to shine a light on bloggers and their commentary. Let people world-wide discover them and their insight – but always to recognize the power of a citizen journalist having their own publication.

Key for law bloggers, I’d think, is that the syndication be done through a credible publisher, that the content be open and free to readers, that as the original publisher you need not have to pay for syndication, that there be links back to the original content and authors and that there be continuing attribution in the form of blog and blogger profiles.

Who knew? Law blogs and Seinfeld.

LexBlog’s Bob Ambrogi reports that North Carolina is close to mandating technology training for lawyers.

The North Carolina State Bar Council has approved a proposed amendment to lawyers’ annual CLE requirements that would mandate that one hour of the required 12 hours of CLE training annually be devoted to technology training.

The council adopted the proposed amendment on April 20. The proposed amendment now goes to the North Carolina Supreme Court for approval.

North Carolina, Ambrogi reports, is only the second state to mandate technology aptitude.

In 2016, Florida became the first state to mandate technology training for lawyers, when it adopted a rule requiring lawyers to complete three hours of CLE every three years “in approved technology programs.”

I couldn’t help but feel the irony of it all when reading Ambrogi’s report.

It was just a couple days ago I was reading a piece by Richard Granat, a champion on the use of technology for greater access to justice, on North Carolina legislation (pdf) restricting the use of technology to provide access to legal services.

Under the guise of consumer protection, North Carolina has passed new legislation, at the direction of the North Carolina Bar, that imposes restrictions on distributing self-help legal software over the Internet.  Rather than protecting consumers, this legislation is a frightened response by the North Carolina Bar to protect their lawyer’s incomes from the impact of advances in Internet technology that provide new ways for people to solve their legal problems at low cost.

The restrictions are so severe that the result is to deprive North Carolina’s citizens of low cost solutions to solving many legal problems, inhibits innovation in developing legal solutions by an emerging self-help legal software industry, stifles competition  from self-help legal software publishers, and will eliminate any possibility of private investment in self-help legal software development.

Then yesterday I read a piece from Mary Juetten, co-founder of Evolve Law and founder and CEO of Traklight, a self-guided IP strategy platform, on state bar associations driving small legal tech companies out of business on the pretense that legal tech business models violate the unauthorized practice of law rules.

One of them attempting do so recently, per Juetten – Florida, in the face of the Department of Justice.

Late last year, TIKD [app that enables indiduals to easily contest tickets] sued The Florida Bar (Bar) and The Ticket Clinic for colluding to put TIKD out of business. The Bar claims it can violate federal antitrust law with impunity because it is an “arm of the state.” In its Statement of Interest, the DOJ seems to understand the link to access to affordable legal services:

“To be sure, new and innovative mobile device apps can be disruptive. Business models entrenched for decades have witnessed new competition from mobile platforms that can profoundly change an industry. But almost invariably, the winners from the process of innovation and competition are consumers. …”

Anyone else see the irony of bar associations mandating legal technology training for their lawyers while outlawing the use of technology that brings access to legal services to the eighty or ninety percent of Americans for whom legal services are absolutely irrelevant?

Imagine if the FAA said airlines could not use technology for selling tickets to passengers. Passengers would need to contact a travel agency or the airline directly to get their ticket mailed out.

Yes, it will mean higher prices and and a gross inconvenience, but as a result of rules consumers cannot understand and a desire to protect jobs, that’s just the way it is with airlines and its governing body.

But do know that the FAA is requiring of all pilots, flight attendants, ticket agents, gate agents, airport attendants and airline office employees mandatory technology training. They’ll be magic with iPads, PDFs, word processing, form submissions to agencies and so much more.

Isn’t it the same here? Bar associations outlawing what consumers need, the effective delivery of legal services realized through legal technology.

Do consumers of legal services, individuals or businesses, cry out for the need for mandatory technology training for lawyers? Something that bar associations will be very, very hard pressed to demonstrate its nexus with greater access to legal services?

I get that lawyers should be using technology to practice law effectively, mandatory training or not.

The cynical side of me says though when you make it manadatory you may be doing so to mask your real bias against legal technology.

Knowing first hand, and via the success of law grads and young lawyers, how powerful the Internet is for networking — for learning, for building relationships, for getting a dream job and growing a book a business, it’s demoralizing to read the advice of a career services officer at a good law school.

For those law grads still without a job, Nicholas Alexiou, Associate Director of Career Services at Vanderbilt University Law School advises, first, networking, in a piece in Above the Law.

First, network.  Yes, I know this is starting to sound repetitive, and no, I do not have a bet going as to how many consecutive weeks I can mention networking.  The reason I keep harping on networking in these e-pages is that it truly can be the one action that lands you a job.  Early on in your law school career, it is perfectly acceptable to engage in what might be called passive networking, i.e., sending out some emails and striking up an infrequent conversation.  But, if you are about to graduate and need a permanent position ASAP, try active networking.  Set up coffee meetings.  Find attorneys who will meet you in their office.  Go to every legal networking event you can attend.  In fact, even events that are not necessarily branded as networking, but might have a number of attorneys in attendance (e.g., CLE programming), are worth your time, just in case it leads to a connection.  Not surprisingly, this active networking is easier to do if you are residing in the geographic area where you want to practice.  If you lack any sort of geographic preference for where you want to start your career, gravitate to those markets which have the highest concentration of alumni from your law school.  Also, if you are worried about the potential outcome of the bar exam, you might want to consider states whose exam has a high passage rate.

All good stuff, and well intentioned, but a not word on networking through the Internet. Identifying a niche, if you didn’t two or three years ago, and getting out and building a name and meeting the people you want to meet at the places you want to work via Facebook, Twitter, a blog and LinkedIn.

Everyone a law student or law grad is ever going to meet has a computer in their pocket or purse. The same is true for anyone who is going to turn them on to opportunities. The number one thing all these people use that pocket computer for is networking – hours a day.

Engaging a lawyer on something meaningful who you have in your tailored Twitter list is a heck of a lot easier — and a lot more likely to happen than via emailing and calling for coffee.

Heck, get the lawyer to ask you to meet for coffee because you are a heck of a lot more intriguing by demonstrating your passion by networking via the Internet than doing what every other student is doing. People hire the exceptional, especially if you didn’t clerk for a federal judge last summer or serve as editor of the law review.

To be fair to Alexiou and Vanderbilt, which is building a reputation for innovation, the school may have any number of student programs on using the Internet for professional development and role model administrators and professors effectively using the net – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – for learning and professional development.

In addition to the law schools themselves, most students have no interest in using the Internet for networking, building a name and getting a job. Seriously.

Prowess using the Internet is not an item on the fast track for getting the high paying law job in a name firm, whether a large firm in a big city or a small/medium size firm of stature in a smaller city.

Law students see the fast track as being get in a good college, get high grades, get in a good law school, get high grades, get on law review, get on moot court, clerk for a judge and do every other traditional thing to pad that resume. Yes, a resume that’s fine tuned many times over down at the career services office.

The law students I have met in my cross country touring are scared to death to do anything different. Many, like their law schools, see using the Internet for networking as only having downside.

So even if the law school puts together programs on the use of the net to help students, most students won’t pay any attention.

All a little sad.