Legal Blogging’s Princess Diana Moment

The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) striking off of legal blogging pioneer David Harris last week caused quite a stir.

Tributes flowed in for the ex-barrister whose witty and wild blog, GeekLawyer, won acclaim in the UK and internationally.

Assuming the Earl Spencer role in the affair was retired BPP Law School lecturer Mike Semple Piggot, who penned a moving eulogy to Harris’ career on his blog Charon QC. Piggot then released a memorabilia podcast of him and Harris chatting away in 2008.

Oh 2008! What an innocent year you were for British legal blogging! Back then, law bloggers existed in a loving, cosy community where you could get your back-slapped even if what you wrote was complete shite…

Then Twitter came tearing into this Garden of Eden, making stars of a select few such as David Allen Green (DAG), while consigning others to a lifetime of nostalgia for the good old days.

DAG may be great to read, with his clever turns of phrase and tales of fun spent among his celebrity friends, but many feel that he, and others like him, have lost touch with the common man and woman. Only a couple of weeks ago, Legal Cheek revealed that the man GQ magazine deigned the 64th most influential in Britain had called a trainee lawyer “a twat” on Twitter after the legal rookie had dared to poke fun at Green’s love of X-factor.

Can you blame them for behaving like Premiership footballers, though? Anyone would surely struggle to maintain a sense of reality with magazines like The Lawyer and Legal Week scrapping it out to host their work in newly-designed blogging sections.

A symptom of the incredible levels of stress these individuals are under was evidenced last month when three top legal bloggers, under pressure to deliver a January masterpiece for their fans, wrote similar articles on the same topic.

The original idea for a blog about snarky lawyers’ letters came from solicitor-advocate Kristin Heimark (@stokenewington) with this blog for Legal Week. Two weeks later in-house law blogger LegalBizzle produced a piece on the same topic for his personal blog. Sniffing a good angle, blogging king DAG weighed in with his own take on the subject eight days later for The Lawyer. Heinmark was unamused, writing on Twitter: “They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. Or sommat.”

DAG and LegalBizzle were too busy glugging champagne in their respective Jacuzzis to respond.

Update: Legalbizzle says “I hadn’t read Kristin’s blog when I wrote mine – my piece is clear that DAG’s tweets were my inspiration. Also, I didn’t know that Kristin is @stokenewington, and I am not on a City salary – not even the city of Leeds.”

9 Responses to “Legal Blogging’s Princess Diana Moment”

  1. Kris

    I should clarify, my bloggette on letter writing first appeared on 6 January on my blog – and was subsequently published at Legal Week on the 11th.

    It must be Zeitgeist!

    :-D

  2. Charon QC

    Alex… I may disagree with DAG on occasion… but when you can actually write with the precision, detail. interest and accuracy of David Allen Green… you might like to put it into practice on The Grauniad….?

    Good luck with that… :-)

  3. Legal Bizzle

    Alex, I know that this isn’t intended as an entirely serious piece, and you have kindly edited to cover some issues that I raised with you. However, I feel that I should clear up a few additional points to avoid confusion.

    First, I genuinely hadn’t seen Kristin’s post, either on her own blog or at Legal Week, before I wrote my own. Somebody tweeted me the link a couple of days after I posted.

    Had I seen it before then, I would have linked to it in the same way that I did to Nicky Richmond’s piece and in the same way that I would have to David’s tweets had they not been deleted. I often use other people’s posts as a jumping off point, and I always credit – as David does, and did in this instance. It seems to me that this conversational aspect of blogging is one of its strongest features.

    To be absolutely clear, I don’t know Kristin, and I didn’t know that she blogs. I also didn’t know that she was @StokeNewington, and if you read the Legal Week re-posting you will see that the link to her Twitter account doesn’t name her handle.

    Equally, I don’t follow Kristin on Twitter, and I don’t see her tweets even if they include my handle (Twitter users will understand how this is possible). I was therefore unaware that she had been tweeting about this coincidence – I would have addressed it in a postscript to my blog if I had known.

    I don’t blame Kristin for this, because I understand how and why she drew the inference that she did. That doesn’t entitle you to assume that the inference is correct.

    Finally, and most importantly, while I take your reference to champagne and jacuzzis as the joke which was intended, the whole sentence carries a clear implication that I was asked to comment in advance of publication and did not do so. That is not true, and I would like you to make that clear.

    (By the way, Legal Week and The Lawyer don’t scrap it out for my blogs, and I don’t write anything to order for either of them. I blog only when I have something to say and the time to say it, which is usually rather less frequently than once a week.

    Legal Week occasionally re-publishes things that I have written for my own blog (the last time was on December 12th) under an arrangement that exists purely because they were the first to ask me. The Lawyer has never even enquired about such an arrangement.)

    • Alex Aldridge

      @legalbizzle – edited one thing at your request: removed the word ‘remarkably’

      Fitting that a piece poking fun at lawyers poking fun at snarky lawyers’ letters generates into a…snarky lawyer’s letter. The circle is complete.

      • Legal Bizzle

        Alex, you also added a postscript at my request – that’s “editing”, right? Although I see that you have now updated it further to include a private message that I asked you not to publish.

        Anyway, let’s be clear about this – there are assertions in your post that are, whether meant humourously or not, simply not true. I’m happy to have the piss taken out of me, but it’s quite upsetting to be lied about and I’m not aware of having done anything to warrant it.

        So I have commented on those points in a fairly measured fashion, because I wanted the true facts to be available to your readers. If that’s snarky then I’m sorry.