On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune had a story called "Lawyers face right to blog: Online journals that contain legal discussions and background information are challenging traditional practices on attorney advertising." The article explains law blogs to laypersons who may never have heard of them, then discusses efforts by some states (notably Kentucky and New York) to regulate them as attorney advertising. I've seen other recent articles about this phenomenon, but I haven't blogged about them because I consider the entire discussion to be ridiculous. Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog agrees.
My blog is not advertising. It's the equivalent of publishing a treatise or a practice guide, or of writing a focus article for the Daily Journal every day. It is scholarship and it is journalism. The blog's primary audience is other lawyers. They are who it's written for, as are most law blogs. If the blog enhances my profile in the legal community, leads to co-counseling relationships, or even generates client contacts, those are happy consequences but they do not transform the blog's fundamental nature from scholarship into solicitation. Fortunately, I have nothing to fear from the California State Bar (even with the proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct). It's too bad the regulators in these other states don't understand what law blogs are or the purposes they serve.
In a recent FindLaw.com article, "Are Lawyers' Blogs Protected by the First Amendment? Why State Bar Regulation of Law Blogs As 'Advertising' Would Be Elitist and Reductive" (Oct. 16, 2006), author Julie Hilden writes:
[C]haracterizing blogs as merely advertising for the attorney who writes them is so reductive as to be absurd. .... State bars should affirmatively encourage legal blogs, rather than chilling them by regulating them as if they were no more significant than a banner on the back of a bus.