Around the Blawgosphere: Law Blog's Haiku Contest Deadline Today; Grumbling About Legal Directories

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Can You Haiku?

We know our readers like to write haiku, so take note, because there may still be time: Bracewell & Giuliani’s bankruptcy blog, Basis Points, is having a haiku contest. The best single haiku that the blog receives by 5 p.m. ET today will win its author two of the firm’s Yankee Stadium tickets (second row, behind home plate, meal in the Legends Club included) for when the New York Yankees play the Milwaukee Brewers at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, June 30. Bracewell & Giuliani partner and Basis Points “blogger-in-chief” Evan Flaschen told the ABA Journal that the winning haiku will be announced Monday and posted at Basis Points. Use this form (PDF) to submit your haiku.

Flaschen, who was a poetry major at Wesleyan University, is judging the contest. He told the Wall Street Journal’s Bankruptcy Beat that your haiku doesn’t have to be about bankruptcy, but “if you can put a seven-syllable legal term in the second line, that would be impressive.” If you don’t have time to enter today, the blog says it will have other haiku contests in July and August.

Martindale Hustle

This week, with a hint of frustration, two law bloggers chimed in on the value, or lack thereof, of legal directories. In a post at Small Firm Innovation, Washington, D.C., solo Carolyn Elefant details what she’s learned by trial and error over the years as far as legal marketing—and she is dismissive of directories. “My fancy $600/year Martindale-Hubbell listing, which I carried for three years, never resulted in a single client.”

Meanwhile, the anonymous “Patrick” at Popehat writes that while he doesn’t get good client leads from his listings, he sees them as a necessary evil. “Some old-school lawyers, from firms to in-house counsel, believe that you’re not a real lawyer if you aren’t listed in Martindale or Thomson-Reuters-West-MSNBC-TMZ or whatever the hell it’s called this week. Thus even when a case might come in the door through rational channels—like a personal referral—if your name isn’t in the blasted proprietary databases, some will conclude you must be a hack with a mail-order degree running your firm out the back of a bait shop.”

Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites noted in posts on June 8 and June 12 that Martindale’s online directory doesn’t even get the most traffic. FindLaw.com, Justia.com, Lawyers.com, Avvo.com, and Nolo.com—not necessarily in that order—all get more.

Get Paid

Appointing lawyers to indigent defense cases and ordering them to continue working on them after expenses have exceeded what the lawyers will be paid implicates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled this week. Both the Michigan bar’s SBM Blog and Legal Profession Blog noted the opinion, Brown v. Howard.

In the case, James A. Brown Jr. was appointed to defend an indigent defendant charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, and possession of a weapon, and sought fees greater than the $3,500 cap. He was eventually awarded $17,268.03 as costs for investigative work and expert fees.

The court quoted a 1987 Kansas case, State v. Smith, in its ruling: “Attorneys make their living through their services. Their services are the means of their livelihood. … And certainly when attorneys are required to donate funds out-of-pocket to subsidize a defense for an indigent defendant, the attorneys are deprived of property in the form of money.”

On the Road

In March, Sidley Austin bankruptcy associate Tyler Coulson abruptly quit his job, announcing that he was going to walk from Delaware to California with a tent and his dog, Mabel. This week, Above the Law checked back in with Coulson, who told the blog that while he is one month behind schedule, he and Mabel have walked more than 1,000 miles and hope to reach the Pacific by the end of October. “I don’t have time or space to describe how dangerous this has been, or how physically and emotionally demanding this is, but let it suffice to say that law school was a cake walk in comparison,” Coulson wrote in an email to the blog. Those interested can also catch up with Coulson via Twitter and Facebook.

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