Ethical Authenticity: The Secret Ingredient

I have been told by more than one client that I was the “secret ingredient” to getting a sticky commercial deal done when the other side’s lawyer created unnecessary roadblocks (apparently not realizing that his or her client also had an interest in getting the deal done).

What do I do that’s so special? First, I listen to my clients. Novel concept? Apparently. Some attorneys seem to have an interest in giving the false appearance of having done something by adding unnecessary language to a contract that is well-drafted in plain English and sufficiently protective of both sides’ interests. This desire to appear busy seems to override their desire to help their clients achieve their goals.

In a similar vein, it appears many attorneys want to appear to be prolific in their blogging by having others do their work for them, ignoring the misrepresentation inherent in such an undertaking. cooking spices ingredients

The Secret Ingredient in this Blog

My “secret ingredient” in this blog is one I did not realize was special until I read about lawyers doing otherwise I write all of the blog posts myself.  Like it or lump it, what you see is what you get.  Just as it appears I may be relatively unique in helping clients reach their goals by removing (not erecting) roadblocks, it appears I’m relatively unique in writing my own blog posts. Unlike many blog posts ostensibly written by lawyers, the posts on this blog are the product of my own analysis and personality.  To do otherwise strikes me as ethically questionable and unfair to the audience.

Yeah, it would be far easier for me to farm out content, but that would mean it’s not my writing. And, if it’s not my writing, how can potential clients and referral sources trust it to represent my thought process, personality, or legal acumen? If I’m going to present the posts as my own, the content should be mine.

I’m not saying attorneys can’t ask assistants to do some background research, pull together references, or contribute to the graphics and formatting of a blog (by all means, delegate what can be delegated), but to be considered as having been authored by the attorney, I think the attorney has to take an active part in preparing the final product for publication.

This desire to be ethically authentic is why there aren’t more blog posts – or why there are sometimes gaps between them. While my goal is to publish at least one post per week, there are times when other commitments – work, family, or community involvement – prevent me from taking the time necessary to write a post in a given week. And, unless I happen to have another post ready in the hopper, that means no post gets published that week. I’m committed to being both honest – if I say I wrote it, I wrote it – and equally committed to being accurate, which means that preparing posts takes time.

Client Work, Community Involvement, and Gaps Between Posts

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LawGirl Serving Food at Super Hero Fish Fry to Benefit The Volunteer Center of Washington County 5-16-14

There are times when client needs preclude preparing blog posts for a time. While some of my recent gaps between posts can certainly be attributed to this, other gaps are the product of the fact that I’ve been having a great time getting more involved in my local community since leaving the big firm downtown (that’s downtown Milwaukee, for those who didn’t read the “about” page) and moving it to my home town. From the Chamber of Commerce to board positions to Rotary and various volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, my involvement in the community has been at once very rewarding and time-consuming. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And, when there are pressing client needs – especially from those clients who have proven themselves to be great clients in the long term – I rearrange my schedule in an effort to take care of what they need as efficiently as possible, while maintaining my effectiveness as a legal advisor. When it comes to litigation, there are times when all bets are off and 95% of my time and energy needs to be given to one case – like, during a jury trial, right before a motion hearing that has the potential for ending the case, or in the midst of preparing the documentation for a business sale or purchase.

This is why , unlike many other blogs written by lawyers, my posts are not always on a regular schedule. I don’t apologize for this, but thought it only right to let you know that this blog is authentically me and that, sometimes, that means I’m not as prolific in my writing as I’d like to be. You’re welcome.

– Amy Salberg (Yes, Really, It’s ME!)

UPDATE 6-26-14: Apparently, I’m not alone in believing the practice of ghost law blogging is unethical. This post from Kevin O’Keefe of “Real Lawyers Have Blogs” claims that there is general consensus that lawyers having their blog posts ghost written is unethical.