Angst & One Lawyer's Personal Blog
Maintaining a “personal” blog has been an ongoing source of angst for me. I (mostly) enjoy writing. I’ve intermittently kept journals for years, although not-so-much in the last 10 years; my journaling these days is spotty, at best, and for reasons similar to those I anguish over regarding maintaining a personal blog.
In one sense — at least so it seems to me — all blogging is personal. To the extent that it’s written by individuals who are expressing their opinions, how can it really be otherwise? But the blogs I maintain for my Fresno-based criminal defense practice and my more generalized criminal-law-oriented blog, can be considered “less” personal in that they primarily deal with legal issues relating to the practice of criminal law.
In “the old days,” I maintained a blog called Unspun™, which was more personal, but mostly contained political and social writing. I started that blog in the dark ages of the slide to hell that was introduced to television news by Fox. Bill O’Reilly liked to fantasize that his post-modern attempt at dismantling the United States was actually a “no spin zone.” Of course, O’Reilly is nothing but spin. So, in reaction against that, I decided to create a website where, I hoped, things would be unspun. And I researched most of the articles I wrote for that site fairly thoroughly.
I always felt odd about posting more personal articles on Unspun™, or articles relating to non-political/non-social issues, such as my musings on anthropology, cognitive science, or other topics that did not fit my “vision” for Unspun™.
My name is common enough that several other well-known people carry it themselves. At least one can probably be considered “fairly famous.” And this, I felt, created a problem for me in writing a blog under my own name. I didn’t want to be equated with the more famous dude, primarily because he seems to me to be something of an idiot. And a hypocritical sell-out.
Network Solutions, like the great dope domain pusher that it is, recognized long ago that I had a penchant for registering domain names, even if I didn’t yet know what I’d use them for — or that I would use them at all! Consequently, I was always getting these tempting offers: “Register RICKHOROWITZ.COM now! This is your last chance before your nose falls off! Get it before someone else does, maybe even that idiot who shares your name is and is more famous!” Okay, so they didn’t actually say he was more famous.
(Here’s a spot of irony for you: I own several domain names I haven’t fully decided what to do with, including some I’ve used extensively in the past, such as techstop.com, and some I’ve more recently acquired such as MrConstitution.com, which has never really been put to use yet. But in “the old days” of the commercial Internet Service Providers, circa 1993, two of which I worked for, I remember sitting around with fellow geekazoids and laughing at someone who had just bought some “stupid” domain name like “furniture.com” or something like that. Boy! Did I miss that boat! Back then, you could buy domains, if I’m recalling correctly, for a one-time fee of $50. I remember hearing once that the guy who bought lawyers.com for $50 later sold it for a couple of million. (I don’t know if that’s true; it’s what I’d heard. Lawyers.com is today owned by the same people who torture attorneys with Lexis-Nexis products.))
Anyway, as regards the tempting offers from Network Solutions regarding a domain with my own name, eventually, I caved in. You can only wave junk in front of a junkie for so long before you get him, after all. Everyone knows when it comes to the Internet, resistance is futile. And the sooner you give in, the sooner your blog content will be disseminated.
But I am an attorney by trade (primarily, and so far it is a trap from which there seems to be no escape). This creates a problem in maintaining a “personal” blog. It’s not just a legal matter, what with freedom of speech being actually dead for attorneys as far as some courts are concerned. It’s also a political matter: if you blog “the wrong stuff” you can scare off potential clients, alienate jurors who ignore the judge’s instructions and hunt for and read your blogs during trial and perhaps even cause your colleagues to question your sanity. Though I’m not sure I really give much of a hoot about what my colleagues might think.
I can’t say that I’ve actually made a decision about the best way to handle this dilemma. Blogging is easier than journaling. And I do enjoy the occasional conversation it generates: one of the drawbacks of being a private attorney — a “solo” — is, well, having to be solo so often.
So while I’m trying to figure this one out, I guess I’m just going to have to try to exercise a little care in what I say here on my “personal” (but very public) blog. And hope that people visiting the site will recognize that there is a difference between whatever personal views I may express on this site and the way I conduct myself as a private attorney and business person.