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Denise Howell Denise Howell
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Dennis M. Kennedy Dennis M. Kennedy
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Denise Howell is a seasoned appellate and intellectual property litigator based in Los Angeles. Denise writes one of the first and most popular law-related blogs, Bag and Baggage, coined the term "blawg" and helped pioneer podcasting for lawyers. Microcontent obsessed since 2001, she is frequently quoted in the media on legal issues involving intellectual property and technology law. "Sound Policy" is Denise's show at IT Conversations, and it's also what she hopes results from the briefs she submits to court. Email Denise at dhowell@gmail.com.

Dennis Kennedy is a computer lawyer and legal technology expert based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author, a frequent speaker and a widely-read blogger, he has more than 300 publications on legal, technology and Internet topics, many of which are collected in his e-books. Dennis has been described as someone who knows almost every rock song in existence and, more importantly, how they apply to technology and law. Email Dennis at his gmail address.

Tom Mighell is Senior Counsel and Litigation Technology Support Coordinator at Cowles & Thompson in Dallas. He has published the Internet Legal Research Weekly newsletter since 2000 and blogged about the Internet and legal technology at Inter Alia since August of 2002. With Tom's singing, Ernie on guitar and Dennis' encylopedic knowledge of rock music, we may have the beginnings of a good band, if this whole blog thing doesn't work out. Email Tom at tmighell@swbell.net.

Marty Schwimmer left a partnership in the largest trademark practice in the world and founded Schwimmer Mitchell, a full-service IP micro-boutique in Westchester County, New York, where he represents owners of famous and not yet famous trademarks. He founded The Trademark Blog, the first IP law blog and the one with the most pictures. He is the first to come in and the last to leave in his firm. Email Marty at marty@schwimmerlegal.com.

Ernest Svenson practices law with a mid-sized law firm in New Orleans, specializing in business-related lawsuits. Most of his practice takes place in federal court, especially the Eastern District. He is best known for his weblog Ernie the Attorney, which he started as an experiment. Like many experiments it got out of control. Nevertheless, he continues to practice law and, occasionally, to seek enlightenment. Email Ernest at esvenson@gmail.com.
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Between Lawyers provides just-in-time group commentary on the issues raised when technology, culture and the law intersect. We take you behind the firewalls and conference room doors to show you how experienced lawyers deal with these issues and help you prepare for the new challenges we all face. For more, see our introductory post.
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« Blogging Policies: Minimizing Legal Risk Can Have Other Consequences | Main | Blogging Policy: Well, Blogging Is A Little Different »

March 28, 2005

Corporate Blogging Policies and Déjà Vu

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Posted by Dennis M. Kennedy

I’ve been doing some research to put the finishing touches on an upcoming presentation on technology use policies.

I was struck by the number of breathless warnings I found about the need to have “corporate blogging policies” and the hand-wringing concerns about the consequences for corporations who do not step up to the dire need for these policies. Fortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, the law firms of the authors of most of the articles are prepared to draft these policies for unsuspecting corporations.

If you read enough of these articles, you have the sense that you’ve gotten a glimpse at the legal marketing playbook for 2005.

I don’t mean to diminish the importance of having some kind of coverage of blogging within the context of an overall technology use policy, but I’m a little suspicious of dire warnings on these issues from law firms that show little understanding of or experience with blogging or technology use policies.

Here’s the tip-off – why is anyone talking about a corporate blogging policy as if it is something separate from an organization’s other technology use policy?

I’ve heard people try to argue that “blogs are somehow different,” but I don’t buy it. Maybe my point of view is different because I’ve had a website for nearly ten years and a blog for more than two years, but I just don’t see how blogs raise issues that require a separate kind of treatment.

Blogs raise the same issues as any public-facing technology or, for that matter, any public communications or appearances. If you have a policy that covers websites, email, chat rooms, newsgroups, public speaking, letters to the editor and the like, it’s hard to see how blogs would not be covered.

The irony in all this hype about corporate blogging policies is that ten years ago, the same breathless concerns about websites and email from lawyers prompted the rise of Internet use, email use and technology use policies. How quickly we forget.

Look, using the appearance of blogs as a reason to review and reconsider your existing technology use policy is not a bad thing, and it’s something you probably should do. If you have no technology use policy whatsoever today, using blogging as a catalyst to get that done is a good thing. However, dealing only with blogging issues while leaving security, password, document retention, confidentiality and alone is not a wise move.

Recognize the focus on blogging policies by law firms as the marketing effort that it is, but look behind the marketing message to see if it suggests some re-evaluation that you want to make.

And, if you have the sense that you’ve heard the rationale for blogging policies before, you are correct. I heard most of these arguments almost ten years ago from lawyers who didn’t have much experience with or understanding of the Internet back then either. In the rush to develop the new corporate blogging policy industry, they apparently have forgotten about the other policies they helped you put in place years ago.

Comments (1) | Category: Blogging Policies


COMMENTS

1. Kevin O'Keefe on March 28, 2005 9:24 PM writes...

Your points are well taken, but from a practical standpoint many organizations, including large law firms, want a blog policy for a few reasons. And if a policy will get them blogging quickly, I say go for it.

One is for marketing. Web sites of large organizations usually have a consistent brand and feel as well as professionalism. Many marketing professionals in large firms want to keep a minimum threshold when people are blogging and identifying themselves as a company employee - whether blogging on behalf of the company or not.

Two, blogs get people who have never published on the net out doing so. Some common sense rules about what and what not to publish can be helpful for the blog publishers and employers.

Three, admin people in these companies tend to know nothing about blogs. Their knee jerk reaction is to say no blogging. However a blogging policy from their marketing department addressing what may be some no brainer issues can get blogs off the ground in a hurry. That's been my experience at least.

- Kevin

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