That’s A Fine Hole You’re Digging

Some people never learn.

I thought Mark C. Robins would get the point when I wrote my post, “My Apologies to the Canadian Legal Blogging Community: A Reply“.

Apparently Mr. Robins just won’t let it go.

Instead of “blogging” about it, he has posted a general question on the Quora website (h/t @ErikMagraken on Twitter). If you really must know more about Quora, read Venkat Balasubramani’s post on Spam Notes here.

So, here’s the wind-up and the pitch:

“Blog, Blawg, Blogger, Blawgger!

As many of you know I am in the legal marketing and legal
referral business in Canada.
Lawyerlocate.ca Inc has become over the past 10 years a
respected Legal resource centre and online referral service. As a result of
that we of course are interacting with our Lawyer members and the legal
community at large in Canada.
Recently we attempted to put out an Aggregate Service
exclusively for Canada Legal Blogs, well that did not go over well with some of
the “Blawgers”.
Which brings me to my question, what do Lawyers feel the
need to separate themselves for the rest of the Blogging communities online by
using the term “Blawg” to describe Their alleged community of Bloggers?
It seems to me that in this effort they may well alienate
the exact group of people they really need to reach out to. It is after all
called Social Networking.
I noticed recently that one of the most respected Legal
Bloggers Kevin O’Keefe made comment on Twitter on the same issue
something like
“My New Years wish is
for lawyers to stop using the term Blawg.” sic
By using the term Blawgger does this in fact make Lawyers
look like they are trying to be superior?
Does this not harm their marketing attempts and to be perceived
as approachable?
How much damage may be done within the Social networking
communities by this approach?
All good questions and I leave to you my readers to offer up
your answers and opinions.
Thanks you
Mark”

I will avoid the temptation in correcting the egregious grammatical errors. Rather, I will presumptuously respond to the questions posed (given that I am not one of Mr. Robins’ “readers”):

Q: Which brings me to my question, what do Lawyers feel the need to separate themselves for the rest of the Blogging communities online by using the term “Blawg” to describe Their alleged community of Bloggers?

A: The reason lawyers feel the need to separate themselves from the rest of the blogging communities online by using the term “Blawg” is simple: We’re lawyers. We’re not butchers, bakers, candlestick makers;  all fine trades , by the way. We are in a profession which carries with it certain ethical duties; one of which is to identify ourselves as practicing members when we speak in public: whether it is in a professional or personal capacity.

Now that I have responded to your red herring, here is the real answer you need. Blawg is a portmanteau of the words “weblog and law”. Get it? If you really want to know how and when to use the phrase “blawg” or “blawging”, go ask Nikki Black at Sui Generis or Carolyn Elefant at My Shingle or any one of a number of nominees for, wait for it… “The ABA 100 Blawg Journal” the host of the coveted “Fourth Annual ABA 100 Blawg Awards“.  There is, of course, Blawg Review, but I doubt you’d be interested in reading what real lawyers write about. I’d also refer you to Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, but he’d only make you cry. It’s better that you just read his post on “Institutional Memory” instead.

Q: By using the term Blawgger does this in fact make Lawyers
look like they are trying to be superior?

A: You are committing a number of logical fallacies here:

  • begging the question (petitio principii): by implying the conclusion of your argument as assumed in your premise. For an explanation of the etymology of the phrase “Blawger” (not “Blawgger”) see above;
  • argumentum ad hominem:  by attempting to link the validity of a false premise (using a descriptive phrase means a group is elitist) to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise (lawyers are elitist);
  • false consensus effect by overestimating the degree of agreement that others have with you, which is, regrettably, nil.

I could go on all day, but your appeals to emotion, motive, ridicule, etc. all lead you down a very slippery slope.

Q. Does this not harm their marketing attempts and to be perceived
as approachable?

A:  It appears that you have yet to grasp the concept that some lawyers do not: 1) use blawging for marketing; 2) if they do use blawging for marketing, they prefer referrals from other lawyers, or 3) prospective clients are not stupid or easily duped by social media marketing jargon. Surprisingly, most client actually understand what blawging means and what purpose it serves. If they don’t, they can use the awesome power of the internet and “Google it”.

Q: How much damage may be done within the Social networking
communities by this approach?

There is no damage that may be done within social networking communities by using the term “Blawging”. The only damage that I foresee is when someone is in a hole and they just keep digging.

As Mark W. Bennett says: “I can explain it to you. I can’t understand it for you.”

4 Responses to “That’s A Fine Hole You’re Digging”

  1. shg Says:

    For a number of years, I had a running argument with David Giacalone of f/k/a, and its predecessor, Ethical Esq., over the use of the word “blawg.” David hated anything other than legal weblog. He was adamant that anything less would diminish respect for lawyers. It’s not that he was elitist by any means, but thought we were doing far too much to diminish respect for the profession already, and should avoid piling on with cutesy words.

    I would very much like to respond to Mark Robins’ curiously phrased query, but in deference to my dear friend, Mr. Giacalone, will do nothing further to diminish the dignity of the legal profession by calling Mr. Robins an ignorant slut.

  2. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    As always, your rhetorical ability inspires.

  3. Big Legal Brain Says:

    As a lawyer and also someone with experience in the legal marketing field, I am sympathetic to Mr. Robins and his concern about lawyers’ fixation on their superioressness. I believe we are not doing enough to advance superiority of lawyers, as a profession and as a race, actually. Though this issue involves Canadian legal marketing and the many nuances associated with Canadian social networking, American lawyers should also stand up, pay attention, and demand a task force as well. Task forcing this issue will assue that the Canadian legal bloggers’ right to be called by their preferred name be recognized and, in addition, licensed, merchandised, and fully monetized. Amen, brother Robins!

  4. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    “Task forcing” is a wonderful turn of phrase. I will definitely bookmark your blawg for future reading using Instapaper and Google Bookmarks. Speaking of neologisms, I tried to convince your resident Social Media Mastermind and Brand Evangelist, Amy Derby to submit my phrase “Flawging”: the art of marketing your blawg by licensing, merchandising and monetizing a blawg; but she said she would co-opt it instead or fax it to the Urban Dictionary staff. You legal marketing types are shrewd, I’ll give you that much, but not a penny more.

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