Around the Blawgosphere: Scott Greenfield Pulls the Plug on His Law Blog, Simple Justice

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There’s a spot available in next year’s Blawg 100: Early Monday morning, New York City criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield put a post up on Simple Justice that he said would be his last.

Greenfield reported it was his 4,744th post, and exactly five years after his blog’s first post. His swan song was actually a dolphin song: A video clip from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy featuring images of leaping dolphins and the song “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” was embedded at the bottom of the post.

As far as why he stopped? He wrote: “Recently, it’s struck me that some of the new blawgers have written posts that mirrored things I had written years earlier. They wrote good posts, and they did so without any clue that anyone had discussed the same issues before them. It dawned on me that I’ve gone through another circle, as happens when we get older. Every year, maybe day, new people come into the blawgosphere and it’s a rebirth, where everything old is new again. As this thought occurred to me, I realized that my work is now part of the old, forgotten blawgosphere. This is probably how it should be.” When asked for comment, Greenfield declined to elaborate to the ABA Journal about why he shuttered the blog and whether he plans to blog elsewhere anytime soon. Nor did he respond at Simple Justice to any of the 50-plus comments on his final post.

But the legal blogosphere swarmed in on the news, posting tributes throughout the week.

At My Law License, Brian Tannebaum writes that Greenfield’s signoff will leave a hole in the criminal law blogosphere while “the Happysphere group, those that never say anything of note because it would make people not like them, along with their brothers and sisters that type daily about shiny toys and how LinkedIn can make your dreams come true, all see a clearer path to writing nothing. … He’s probably tired of many of you and your lack of desire to do anything to remind him that this is a profession and not a marketing convention, and he’s not going to continue if he can’t do it the way he wants to do it. He’s a crotchety old man.”

Bruce Carton at Legal Blog Watch said Greenfield kept the legal blogosphere honest. “As a blogger, Scott was not a ‘pleaser,’ an approach to life that many bloggers, including myself, fall into as it can be the easy way to go. Rather, Scott was the blogosphere’s truth serum.”

Washington, D.C., lawyer Carolyn Elefant posted at MyShingle five things a lawyer-blogger can learn from Scott Greenfield. One is to “be a person, not a brand.”

“Many of the rules of blogging—and law practice—advise that you play to your audience (write what they want to hear or sell to your target,” Elefant wrote. “It’s not bad advice, overall, but sticking to the rule without deviation reduces either a blog or a law firm to a one-dimensional brand rather than a living, breathing thing full of complexity. Yes, Scott held the ‘brand’ of curmudgeonly criminal defense lawyer. But he also made First Amendment precedent, read Seth Godin, shared beers with marketers like Kevin O’Keefe and loved his family. Marketers would have cringed that these interests sent mixed messages for ‘Brand Curmudgeon’ but it’s these little quirks that made Scott human; so much more than a brand and far more interesting.”

Even those who said they were at times shunned by Greenfield tipped their hats to him.

Minneapolis solo Sam Glover wrote that Greenfield “never had many good things to say about Lawyerist, but Simple Justice was often worth reading, anyway, and I have subscribed for years.”

“I owe more to Greenfield than I probably care to admit,” Washington, D.C., criminal defense lawyer Jamison Koehler wrote at Koehler Law. “He gave me a shout out during the early days of my blog, lending my blog at least the veneer of respectability within the criminal law blogosphere. And the good thing about any praise from Greenfield—doled out in such a miserly fashion—was that you always knew it was genuine. His kind words recently—almost two years after I was banished from his blogroll as a self-promoting marketer—meant far more to me than any ABA award.”

Perhaps the highest praise, though, came from The Trial Warrior author Toronto business litigator Antonin Pribetic, who based on both Simple Justice and his personal correspondence with Greenfield wrote: “Candidly, if I had met Scott as a new lawyer, I would have chosen to become a criminal defence lawyer instead. The depth and breadth of his passion (used in the traditional, not social media, sense) and respect for the rule of law, even when the legal profession and the judiciary lose sight of the meaning of ‘simple justice,’ resonated with me on a fundamentally personal level.”

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