A Time to Blog

In August 2001, University of Tennessee Law professor Glenn Reynolds launched "Instapundit," a Web site that provides frequently updated political and cultural news and commentary. It was one of the first "blogs," and it literally changed the landscape of American politics, journalism and communications. By 2004, Instapundit was getting more than 100,000 visits each day, and Wired magazine proclaimed Professor Reynolds to be "the Blogfather," even though he bears no resemblance whatsoever to Marlon Brando.

According to Wikipedia (which is a very reliable source, and if you don't believe me, just ask John Seigenthaler), Blogfather Reynolds created Instapundit as an experiment as part of a class he taught on Internet law.

Well, Professor Blogfather has taught his students well, because these days, lawyers all across the volunteer state are blogging.

Blogging has become the latest marketing tool by lawyers in Tennessee and across the country. Indeed, John Grisham's next legal thriller will probably be titled A Time to Blog.

For many years, most law firms have had Web sites. But generally speaking, these are nothing more than Internet billboards that simply show the firm logo, the firm slogan or brand ("We do legal chicken right"), and pictures and bios of the firm's attorneys ("Muffie Shrumway was recently named one of America's Super-Duper Spidermen Lawyers in the field of Admiralty Law and is a Fellow of the American College of Notary Publics").

But now lawyers and law firms are moving from Web sites to blogs, giving their clients and, more importantly, their potential clients, all sorts of breaking legal news, such as "Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money! Tennessee Legislature Authorizes Citizens to Pack Heat While in State Parks, Bars and Churches!"

These days if you Google almost any topic of Tennessee law (and let's face it, folks, nothing is more fun than Googling Tennessee law), you'll be directed to some Tennessee instalawyer who, rather than going to court, spends several unbillable hours each day posting the latest developments in the evolution of the rule against perpetuities. (Check out www.bodyheatlaw.com.)

For example, suppose you get hit by a runaway truck careening down Monteagle Mountain on I-24. You'll find a good lawyer and all sorts of helpful information on the "Truck Injury Lawyer Blog," e-published by the Law Offices of Morgan Adams in Chattanooga.

Your kid gets injured on a trampoline? Just e-bounce your way to the "Tennessee Injury Lawyer Blog," e-published by Baker & Associates. This blog features regular updates on "trampoline accidents" as well as "Tennessee amusement park accidents." (Check this blog before your next trip to Dollywood!)

One of my favorite Tennessee law blogs is "Knight on Family Law," by instalawyer Stephen C. Knight of Baydoun & Knight in Nashville. This blog recently had an update captioned "Lawyer Reprimanded for Humming Twilight Zone Theme." It reported that the Connecticut Lawyers Grievance Committee had officially reprimanded a lawyer for humming the Twilight Zone theme (Doo dah Doo dah, Doo, dah, Doo, dah!) during a divorce hearing.

Now folks, that's news you can use. Do not, repeat, do not hum the Twilight Zone theme song in court. It's not only bad form, you could find yourself before the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

Ever on the e-cutting edge, Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis in Nashville now regularly e-publishes www.younglawyersblog.com, featuring posts of particular interest to young lawyers. For example, so help me, on May 7, www.younglawyersblog.com had the following post: "Breaking News: 'Saggy Pants' Granted a Reprieve." The post breathlessly announced that Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper had just released an opinion about a proposed bill that would make it a Class C Misdemeanor in Tennessee to "knowingly wear pants below the person's waistline in a public place in a manner that exposes the person's underwear or bare buttocks."

The post went on to give young lawyer readers the news that Attorney General Cooper had "opined that this proposed bill is too vague regarding what the law prohibits, and it does not provide specific guidance for law enforcement."

This was no doubt great news to young lawyers across the state who like to walk around their law firm wearing their pants below their waistline, exposing their underwear or their bare buttocks.

Frankly, if I ever see a young associate of our firm walking down the hallway exposing his bare buttocks, I will no doubt immediately hum the theme from The Twilight Zone.

But the really cool lawyers across the state aren't just blogging.They are now tweeting! Legal consumers can now sign up to follow the Twitter updates of the Ferraris Law Group in Knoxville, and Attorney Justin Hosie of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel in Chattanooga is regularly tweeting consumer finance updates.

Let's just hope that tweeting Tennessee lawyers don't start posting "tweets" throughout the day giving us vital short messages such as the following:

Just got out of the shower. Headed for the office! LOL!
Arrived at work a few minutes ago. Unfortunately, old geezer senior partner reprimanded me for my saggy pants.
Now in court in divorce hearing. Opposing counsel is humming theme from Twilight Zone. Guess I must report him to disciplinary board. LOL!

Well, I could go on and on (and on) about tweeting and blogging lawyers, but this column has far exceeded 140 characters.

Suffice to say if you want to read more (and when I say more, I mean more), check out www.billhaltom.com. In my impartial opinion, it is the best blog now found in the Tennessee legal blogosphere. LOL!  


Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association. Read more of his stuff at www. billhaltom.com.