Around the Blawgosphere: Nix 'Here-and-There Words'; Has Blogging Changed Corporate Law Practice?

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While Heretofore You May Have Used These Words—Really, You Should Stop

Last year, U.S. Bank attorney Andy Mergendahl meditated on the work of Black’s Law Dictionary editor-in-chief Bryan Garner and took lawyers to task for their foolhardy uses of the word “shall” in contracts.

This week, the Lawyerist contributor notes what Garner calls “here-and-there words.” Among them: herein, heretofore, hereinafter, hereunder, thereof, thereto, therewith, thereunder, therefor, thereon, therefrom.

Mergendahl quotes Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage’s take on here-and-there words: “These abound in legal writing (unfortunately, they do not occur just here and there), usually thrown in gratuitously to give legal documents that musty legal smell.”

Hereby gets a pass, however: “Garner does allow that hereby can be used to ‘denote that the sentence in which it appears constitutes the legally operative act by which something is done,’ ” Mergendahl writes. “So, hereby can be effective in making it certain that if in a document one ‘hereby resigns,’ that document itself serves as the resignation.”

Baby Steps

Chapman University law professor Tom W. Bell noted at MoneyLaw that he was pleased to see that U.S. News & World Report included median LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of each school’s entering class in this year’s law school rankings. “I have long argued that USN&WR should publish all of the data that it uses in its rankings,” Bell wrote. “Though USN&WR remains short of that ideal, disclosing median LSATs and GPAs represents a major step towards making the rankings more transparent and, thus, trustworthy.”

Other data used in the rankings calculation that Bell would like to see published? Overhead expenditures per student, which is worth 9.75 percent of a school’s score, and financial aid expenditures per student, which is worth 1.5 percent of the score. “If USN&WR cannot bring itself to publish overhead expenditures / student and financial aid expenditures / student, however, it should abandon those measures,” Bell writes. “They serve as poor proxies for the quality of a school’s legal education, and if we cannot double-check the figures, we cannot trust their accuracy.”

The Corporate Law Conversation

Graphics by Kelly Hume

Eckert Seamans partner Francis Pileggi posted at Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation Blog video interview he did with LexBlog’s Colin O’Keefe in advance of a seminar (PDF) he conducted earlier this week about corporate law blogging with other corporate law bloggers: Boston College law professor Brian Quinn, who authors M&A Law Prof Blog; University of Illinois law professor Christine Hurt, who contributes to The Conglomerate; Kevin M. LaCroix, an attorney and a partner in OakBridge Insurance Services, who authors The D&O Diary; and Stoel Rives partner Doug Batey, who authors LLC Law Monitor.

O’Keefe asked Pileggi how he thinks blogs have impacted the practice of corporate law.

“It has impacted corporate law as far as the academy goes, because law professors now, when they are analyzing a recent case, they can disseminate and distribute their comments and their analysis of a court decision within hours,” Pileggi said. “Whereas, previously, as you know, it might have taken weeks, or maybe even months, for their articles to be disseminated the old-fashioned way.”

And in-house counsel and private practitioners, who before blogging weren’t part of the (albeit delayed) conversation about new cases, now have an avenue to weigh in on the latest cases.

Pileggi also says that writing about cases, as he does on his blog, makes him read them more carefully. He also notes that with his blog, he’s created a database for himself of case write-ups.

“When I’ve looked for a case in the past that I know I’ve read, it’s not always easy to find,” Pileggi said. “But now I can just type in a search word—let’s say, it’s fiduciary duty—and it brings up all of the cases I’ve summarized over the past seven years on fiduciary duty.”

Siri Searchability

At Solo Practice University, law practice management consultant Debra Bruce advises lawyers focused on how they fare in Google search results not to forget how they fare on Siri, the female-voiced virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S, as well as counterpart Voice Actions for Android.

When a user asks for an attorney (which Siri, at any rate seems to understand better than lawyer) on one of these virtual assistants, far fewer results come up than in a Google search, and results skew local. “Voice Actions searches Google Places for an appropriate business near the current location of the smartphone at the time of the query,” Bruce writes. “Siri reports listings on Yelp. Entrepreneur online magazine reported that Siri also looks at reviews on Yahoo and listings on localeze.com.”

So make sure you have a keyword-rich profile on Google Places and list your firm on Yelp, Bruce says, and optimize your local information in those listings (get your ZIP code in there) and on your law firm website to make it to the top of the heap on these voice-activated apps.

Updated May 30 to correct a typographical error.

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