Section 1988(b) Attorney's Fees
A Season for Dissent

When a Blawg is an Advertisement

When is a blawg and blawg, and not an advertisement?  Context here (Giacalone), here (Cowgill), and here (Schaeffer).  I know the difference when I see it.  Here are some signs:

    *  The blog's address (re: URL) is geared toward gaming Google.

E.g., I might title my "blawg" <MyCityDefenseLawyer [dot] [com]>.  The goal is to attract people using Google to find a My City criminal defense lawyer.  For a lot of complicated reasons, this doesn't work, and by the way, is a sure way respectable bloggers like Ken and me will ignore you.

    * The blog's context is full of key terms - called Google bait - designed to attract Googlers-cum-potential clients.

E.g., I might post this: Here's a story of interest to My City criminal defense and civil rights lawyers.  The hope is that people searching Google for a My City criminal defense lawyer will come upon the blawg.  Again, this doesn't work, and is a sure way to destroy your credibility (and make you appear desperate for clients).  But it's pretty clear what someone who uses those combinations of words is up to.

The harder case, I think, is someone who blawgs to attract business, but in a classier way.  What if a person started a blawg for the purpose of establishing his expertise, which he or she needs in order to convince you to refer him clients.  Does that make the blawg an advertisement?

I've referred at least three cases to lawyers whose blawging impressed me such that I felt comfortable referring clients to them.  So, blawgs are a way to generate business, and thus, in some sense, might be seen as an advertisement.

Then again, most people teach and CLE's and write articles as a way to "make rain."  Is every practitioner-written article presumptively an advertisement.  Would that make sense?  Is that the type of conduct ethical rules should target?