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Blogging Lawyers Face Regulatory Scrutiny

Industry ReportThis week’s NJBIZ list of law firms places the spotlight on some of the largest law firms in the state. The top 25 of 101 firms surveyed from Sept. 19 to Oct. 13 were selected for the list ranked by the number of reported state-licensed attorneys.

Topping the list again this year is Newark’s McCarter & English, with 86 New Jersey partners and 235 attorneys in the state. Fox Rothschild in Lawrenceville rounds out the Top 10: It added 53 attorneys after merging with Roseland-based Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman earlier this month. Teaneck’s DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler, which ranked No. 19 last year, did not respond to requests for information by press time and could not be ranked.

A topic of discussion among law firms these days is blogs. A number of these Web pages authored by attorneys have fallen under the microscope as some states consider whether they should be considered a form of advertising and therefore regulated as such.

According to an article by Julie Hilden, a columnist and graduate of Yale Law School, “Such proposals raise serious First Amendment issues.” For example, a proposal in New York would require attorneys there to tag entries with the words “Attorney Advertisement,” Hilden wrote for the Website FindLaw.

Ronald Henry of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge questions the intent of these blogs, asking if they are they really providing a public service. “[It] seems to me that the Supreme Court is whacking “Best Lawyers” and “Super Lawyers” when they should also take a close look at blogging,” he said. He acknowledges that his opinions aren’t reflective of those held by the firm, which does not maintain an official blog.

Richard DeLuca of Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville says his firm was one of the first in the state to use blogs. The company has published information through the New Jersey Law Blog, www.njlawblog.com, since 2004.

“Right now it seems that there is a new blog launched each and every day by another attorney or law firm, each one with its own style and mission,” says DeLuca. Many of these blogs, he continued, are personal in nature and or are used to engage the public in conversation about legal developments or as a marketing tool.

“Using a blog allows the firm”s attorneys to publish information outside of traditional media outlets including books, magazines, law reviews, etc. and provide access to that information to a larger pool of interested people,” he concludes.

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