The Internet for attorneys

Attorneys need to tap into their inner-techie with their own website, social media pages, blogs and videos, according to a seminar at the Maryland State Bar Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting.

Jabez LeBret of Get Noticed Get Found Inc., which helps law firms with marketing strategies, discussed how attorneys can maximize their presence online.

LaBret, who co-wrote the book “Online Law Practice Strategies,” spoke to an overflowing room of attorneys Thursday in Ocean City.

Here is a list of recommendations LaBret made to attorneys during the presentation:

  • Keywords are essential.
  • Make sure to beef up Google+ local pages. Google has likely already created pages for your law firm, but attorneys should add pictures and additional information about the firm.
  • Clean up online directory listings by adding a website URL, address, phone number and name. Some directories are free, some are paid, but there are a lot of them. “This is a marathon,” LeBret said. “This is not a sprint. This is not something you should do over a weekend.”
  • A Facebook page is not a replacement for a personal website. “Never put all your eggs in a basket with a system you don’t control,” LeBret said.
  • Don’t make up profiles in order to give your firm good reviews.
  • Don’t pay for reviews or respond to reviews.
  • Add a 60 second introduction video on your website.
  • Blog about four times a month about local topics, between 250 and 600 words per blog post. “It makes you look human when you’re blogging about the things going on around you,” LeBret said.
  • Send a press release once every eight weeks. “We don’t care if any one reads the press release, we are doing this for the search engines,” LeBret said.
  • Social media is must. It is not an effective tool for attracting new clients but essential for search engine ranking.
  • Social media pages are for providing information, not advertising.
  • Put your law firm’s phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the website. “If I want to contact you to give you money, don’t make me work for it,” LeBret said.
  • Put a disclaimer on every page of the website, including blogs.
  • Do not use clients’ names in blogs.
  • Don’t sign three year contracts with tech companies.

Who offed the Ripoff Report?

That’s the question that had the blogosphere buzzing Tuesday evening, with tweets and blog posts wondering why a Google site search did not find “” — the consumer advocacy site that elevates online complaints into a civic duty. (“Many law firms and law enforcement agencies utilize Ripoff Report to aid in their investigations of business practices,” the home page says. “By filing a report, your information may aid in pursuing civil or criminal proceedings against companies engaged in wrongdoing.”)

Had Google succumbed to threats by a doctor, lawyer or business dissed in one of RR’s legions of entries ?

Relax, says Search Engine Land, which quotes an (unnamed) Google spokesperson as saying the Ripoff Report’s URL was removed at its own request.

As of 9:30 p.m., though, SEL Executive Editor Matt McGee couldn’t tell if it was done on purpose or by accident. He noted that Google warned of unauthorized changes when it liberalized its Webmaster Tools verification process last year.

Of the 11 comments on McGee’s site as of 9:30, just four had ventured a guess — and not one of them thought RR had done it on purpose.

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Gadgets aplenty at Consumer Electronics Show

Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams was in Las Vegas last week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. On Friday, the intellectual property lawyer offered an overview of the expo. Today, he provides a list of gadgets and products that grabbed his attention.

CES 2011 ended Sunday. More than 130,000 registered attendees walked through 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space looking at a wide range of consumer electronic products. While it is impossible to see everything CES has to offer, each person comes away with a sense of what’s hot, what’s not, what’s unique, and when to pass.

1. LG’s Smart TV. This wall-mounted, flat-screen, high-definition TV incorporates all the streaming entertainment and social networking features of your PC or laptop. The TV has a USB and RJ45 ethernet ports. You can download apps, send e-mails, stream a Netflix-provided movie, etc.

No keyboard is provided, but you could use a wireless keyboard or use an app that makes your iPhone keyboard work on the TV. There were several CES exhibitors promoting these “Smart TVs,” and this term has become generic. Check out LG’s offerings here.

Meanwhile, what happened to 3D TV?  It was the star of CES 2011 and was promoted again this year, especially by Sony, but 3D has not taken off the tarmac.

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Shirvell fired; lawsuit next?

If you’ve never heard of Andrew Shirvell, I’ll let Anderson Cooper tell you about him in the video below.

(If you’d like Shirvell with a side of snark, check out this Daily Show story from last week.)

Shirvell was fired Monday from his position as an assistant attorney general in Michigan. His lawyer says Shirvell was exercising his First Amendment rights, but Attorney General Mike Cox said Shirvell’s conduct was “unbecoming for a state employee, especially an assistant attorney general.”

“Shirvell repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior and inappropriately used state resources, our investigation showed,” Cox said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Philip Thomas, Shirvell’s lawyer, said Shirvell has received excellent performance reviews and said the firing “smelled political.”

“There’s been a tremendous piling on against Andrew,” Thomas told the Free Press. “The liberal media started this tempest in a teapot.”

Sounds like this kettle might be boiling for the foreseeable future.

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UM profs join the blogosphere

Some faculty members at the University of Maryland School of Law can add a new title to their resume – blogger.

The school has launched Quoth the Raven, a faculty blog. (Sayeth I: if it has “quoth” in the title, it’s gotta be good.) The blog is a chance for professors to share thoughts “about current events and other concerns – including reactions to judicial and other decisions that affect law teaching and scholarship, ideas about legal education, commentary on political affairs and views about social justice,” Dean Phoebe Haddon wrote in the inaugural post.

The blog has featured several updates each day with headlines that grab your attention. My favorite so far: “Post-Racial ‘Race Talk’ and the Marketing of Tampons.” Incidentally, the blogger, Taunya Lovell Banks, also wrote a very interesting piece on noted seersucker aficionado Atticus Finch and the 50th anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

So welcome to the blog neighborhood, Quoth the Raven, and here’s hoping the posts are evermore.

The courts and the tweets

I’ve come to view the social norms of the courtroom as very similar to a house of worship. You dress up nice, speak in hushed tones and try not to snore during a sermon or closing argument.

I also know you don’t whip out your cell phone in either sanctuary. If you have to call someone or need to have an in-depth conversation, you step out into the hallway as far away from everyone else as possible. It’s both considerate and common sense.

I was thinking about this as I read Andy Green’s criticism of the Baltimore City Circuit Court’s ban on Twitter in the courthouse, prompted by the Dixon trial and verdict. As The Daily Record’s Official Dixon Verdict Tweeter, I guess I’m part of the reason why the ban was enacted.

My tweets, for the record, came from the hallway outside the courtroom. Granted, most of my tweeting was done while we were awaiting a verdict, so I wasn’t leaving the courtroom during any proceeding. But when court was in session, I would try to leave quietly during a break in the action, even if that was simply someone else speaking.

Of course, the nature of the Dixon trial meant there were at least a half-dozen people “quietly” leaving the courtroom at the same time as me. Judge Dennis M. Sweeney solved the problem on at least two occasions by allowing a group of reporters to sit in the back of the courtroom and leave to Tweet and report on his cue. Once we left the courtroom, though, we were not allowed back inside until the proceeding ended.

So while you’re “working” from home today, answer me this: How would you handle Twitter if you were a judge?

Late-night fight a contract tussle

The mess at NBC involving “The Tonight Show”, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien has already launched a thousand monologue jokes.

But the high-profile kerfuffle might ultimately boil down to something more mundane: contract law, specifically Conan’s deal with the network. Concurring Opinions broke down the case and gives the slight edge to NBC based on the information that has been made public.

The most interesting point to me is that NBC never stated in Conan’s contract when “The Tonight Show” would air, only that he would host something called “The Tonight Show.” That fact, as Lawrence Cunningham on Concurring Opinions and others have noted, might explain why Conan has been arguing his case to the “People of Earth” in the court of public opinion – and winning in the view of many.

HT: Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes.

(Full disclosure: I’m a Letterman guy. I’ve never liked Leno. These days, I flip back and forth between Dave and Conan.)

TimesSelect: R.I.P.

The New York Times on Wednesday pulled the plug on its TimesSelect Web subscription program, returning parts of the online Times to entirely free status.

Although the pending action was widely reported — including in our own On the Record blog on Aug. 11 — the move came exactly two years to the day after the Times began charging $7.95 a month, or $49.95 a year, for online access to its columnists, its editorials and op-ed pieces, and its archives. Print subscribers to the Times, and some students and educators, were given free access. Paid Web site subscribers will get a prorated refund.

According to the Times’ own story of the switch:

“The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free.”

This leaves the Wall Street Journal as the only major newspaper in the country to charge for access to most of its Web site. And Rupert Murdoch, the soon-to-be new owner of Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of the Journal, has talked openly about allowing the online Journal to be freely available. Yet some Dow Jones executives, including CEO Richard F. Zannino, think should be kept at least a partially paid site, according to an article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the Times has instituted a new service, MyTimes, which allows users to create their own personalized web pages on the Times’ site – with content from outside the Times’ domain. Seems like The Powers That Be at NYT have embraced the concept of aggregation.

It’s a brave new world.

-PAUL SAMUEL, Associate Editor

Wi-Fi for none?

Looks like residents of San Francisco and Chicago won’t be getting citywide wireless Internet anytime soon.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning that EarthLink backed out of its proposed contract, just one day after Chicago’s plan fell apart. Earthlink and AT&T were both contenders in Chicago.

Philadelphia signed Earthlink to provide its citywide network, an initiative that began in 2005 and is just now coming to fruition (about half the 135 sq. mile area is covered to date). Anyone who’s recently visited the City of Brotherly Love know how it’s working?

How strong’s the signal in Annapolis now that the state capital has free public WiFi?

And is a citywide wireless network truly a feasible, good idea?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor