Professional reading - recent blog posts of note

From the Electronic Discovery Law Blog, an interesting summary of a San Diego legal ethics opinion barring an attorney from making an ex parte "friend request" to a represented party. Seems to be common sense.

The Drug and Device Law Blog has a good discussion of recent Supreme Court decisions concerning personal jurisdiction in products liability cases based on stream of commerce. This is required reading.

While there, also catch their post about the status and rights of private insurers who are Medicare Advantage Organizations as secondary payers.

From the Blog of the Legal Times, we have an article about how Wilmer Cutler may or may not be facing a contingent claim of $214 million arising from a patent matter. One of the managing partners of that firm says no problemo. Move along folks, there's nothing to see here.

Brian Krebs has published a story about cutting-edge litigation relating to the liability of a bank to a commercial customer for fraudulent wire transfers from the business's account by cyber-criminals. Cyber fraud is a huge problem and it remains to be seen how legislatures and courts deal with it.

A DRI Today post provides a helpful checklist in The Top Ten Mistakes To Avoid When Preparing Coverage Opinions.

The Insurance Defense News blog has a report concerning a successful defense of a retail store in the E.D. of Virginia against the claims of a customer who banged her head on a shelf. It was an open and obvious condition, held Judge Ellis.

In a case described by the Maryland Court of Appeals as a procedural nightmare, the Court reviews the proper procedures for settling a wrongful death case.


Search engine makes Recap database more valuable

The Recap archive is now more useful to litigators, since there is a search engine to access the downloaded pleadings.  I had previously complained about the lack of a search engine, so now that they have one, it's only fair that I point that out.   (Recap is that Firefox plug-in that comes alive when you use Pacer, and sends a copy of any filing you download to the Internet Archive to improve public access.)

Now, if you wish to view the pleadings in an important precedent because you are working on a similar matter, the Recap search engine should be a useful tool.  Chances are good that if you want to look at the pleadings, someone else has had the same thought.


On pruning my blog roll

Interesting observation: blogs about law office management and marketing seem to have much greater longevity than substantive blogs. Why is that?

I discovered this phenomenon while pruning my blog roll.  I think the answer is that it has to be more enjoyable to write about law office management and legal marketing.  That context lends itself to writing with flair and self expression.

Also, those types of blogs must be a lot more effective in generating business leads.  A good post on management techniques will be valuable for years.  Whereas, the latest opinion on UIM coverage is interesting for how long?

The benefits of linking to cases through Google Scholar

Until today, I've always linked to opinions in pdf form as posted on the court's own website.  I did that because the opinions are available for free there, and linking to them added value for the reader.  The essential value of blogs is in the links.  Plus, the opinions generally weren't available for free anywhere else.

Now that has changed.  Most court opinions are now available through Google Scholar, which raises the issue, should I link to the opinion on the court's website, or to the opinion on Google Scholar?  I've decided to link to the opinion on Google Scholar, on the grounds that it delivers more added value for the reader.  The Google Scholar version of the opinion will have hyperlinks to most of the cases cited in the opinion, which is very useful for anyone who has a professional interest in the subject.  Also, the Google Scholar version has a tab where the reader can click to see how the opinion has been cited, which is also very useful.

I also find it easier to cut and paste from Google Scholar into a Typepad blog, than it is to do so from a pdf. There's less formatting to clean up.

The downside of Google Scholar is that it doesn't let you print out a clean copy of the opinion that would be appropriate, in my view, to pass up to the judge in a court. In other words, it will have the Google Scholar headings and such, which the court might find strange.  In contrast, it would be more acceptable to pass up a printout of a clean pdf opinion from an appellate court's own website.   On balance, that's not enough to not use Google Scholar. 

As always, it is fun to blog about blogging.

Washington Lawyer article on blogging

The D.C. Bar Association's magazine, the Washington Lawyer, has an article by Sarah Kellogg about blogging.  The article is written, it seems, for those still toying with the idea of starting a weblog.

Here's my view of weblogs.  Take your standard legal newspaper, like the Virginia Lawyers' Weekly or the Maryland Daily Record.  They all have roughly the same types of articles:  current events in the law, case opinion synopses, legal gossip, editorials, and regular columns on subjects like law office technology, legal ethics, or trial practice skills.  Most weblogs will fit into one of those pigeonholes.  Myself, these days the only opinions I am really interested in are those held by men and women wearing black robes.  So I focus on the new cases -- and I think there is a need for that, as the new cases that interest me the most often get little or no interest from the legal newspapers.

If you want to get the full benefit from weblogs, then chose a range of them covering the same categories that you would find in a good legal newspaper in your locality, and subscribe to them in a news aggregator.  Then presto, you have created your own customized legal newspaper, staffed by volunteer "stringers".  It will not be a substitute to a subscription to a good legal newspaper like the Maryland Daily Record -- are you kidding me?  But it will be a valuable supplement to it.

I've already said what little else I have to say about the blogging (just click on the weblogs category on the sidebar if you want to read it). 

Blogs and the Insurance Industry

The Insurance Journal has an interesting audio feed of an interview with George Wallace, Esq., the author of Declarations and Exclusions.

The key to the usefulness of blogs, whether insurance-related or otherwise, is companion software called news aggregators. I use Sharpreader. News aggregators allow you, in essence, to create your own customized digest of news and weblog posts covering subjects of your choice.

Go here for more on news aggregators. (Later) Here is Rick Klau's review of SharpReader. Here is a link from Jerry Lawson that will take you to a round up of news aggregators.