lexBlog Spurs Ethics Debate

A few days ago I reported on the launch of lexBlog, a new service for helping lawyers to establish blogs.
To me lexBlog’s value is that it gives non-technical lawyers access to an online presence. David Giacalone read a little closer and focused his attention on something I didn’t even notice about lexBlog: it would not only be providing online publishing and hosting services to lawyers but also providing content.
The debate over the implications of ghost written law content has since arisen on Giacalone’s site and spread to Denise Howell’s. It’s actually an illustration of blogging as discourse gone wrong – thoughts are scattered in so many places that it’s difficult just to piece together the various viewpoints (perhaps David Galbraith was right that blogs shouldn’t have comments). Worse, it seems that no one really knows the facts. Exactly what is Mr. O’Keefe planning to do?
Some of the dust has settled. O’Keefe has clarified that there will no ghost-written content (everything will be attributed to the actual author). That puts an end to one area of debate (or at least reduces it to a hypothetical). Whether blogs are good for marketing legal services is still an open question.
I think that a web presence is an important part of any enterprise. O’Keefe knows that blogs can be built to take advantage search engine optimization, that they’re focused on the king component of the web (content), and that they can help to establish reputation. I think it’s the reputation element that worries people. If the content writing is outsourced, the reader is getting a skewed view of the expertise.
Part of the trouble rests in the definition of a “blog”. If it’s supposed to represent a person (like this site – which by the way is meant to represent me in a personal capacity – not a professional one) then I think the content should be written by that person. If we define “person” the legal way – to include a law firm or law office – then I don’t see the harm in publishing whatever content the firm can obtain. The firm can produce an article for the web and maybe they can produce a good brief for the client. The internal workings (including outsourcing) don’t need to be made public.
That said, there must be accountability. I might not want to see how Hillshire Farms makes their delicious Polish Sausage, but I want to see the ingredients listed on the package, and I definitely want food inspectors in there checking things out. The same is true for web site content. I expect a certain amount of labeling (who wrote what) and I expect checks against misrepresentation of expertise. It doesn’t sound to me like O’Keefe plans to dodge either of these.
Giacalone has the latest discussion and more sausage analogies.

One thought on “lexBlog Spurs Ethics Debate”

  1. Thank you, Andrew, for your thoughtful addition to this discussion. I want the ingredients clearly listed for that sausage, plus I want the finished product to be as tastey and healthy as possible.
    I’m not certain, on the broader point about weblogs as discourse gone wrong, that I can totally agree with you. Any one who really wants to know what’s being said on a particular topic across the weblog universe can readily do so with a little Googling (that how I found you), or some fairly sophisticated (but easy to use) tickler systems.
    Compared to trying to keep track of a conversation around a dining room table, or gossip across one campus, weblog discourse seems rather organized and accessible. I wouldn’t give up Comments and lose insight and perspectives of others, merely to make sure I knew what everyone was saying everywhere on the topic.

Comments are closed.