Maybe He Meant it as Praise?


I’ve learned that Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, in a continuing legal education program (I’m not giving the State Bar of Texas $90 even to rip a copy of the video for this post), attacked the motives of all criminal defense blawgers, who in his view are “only out to make a name for themselves” in order to “get clients.” As exhibits, he used an image of Defending People and of Ft. Worth criminal-defense lawyer Shawn Matlock’s The Matlock Blog.

“Make a name for myself”? Sure, why not? The same accusation could be leveled at anyone writing publicly anywhere about anything. I don’t mind making a name for myself; the more people read me, the more I can spread the gospel of freedom over safety.

But “get clients”? That rates pretty highly (right up there with “best crime blawg”) as one of the silliest things said about Defending People. (It suggests that Bradley doesn’t read me, and that makes me sad.) Anyone who reads Defending People and hires me anyway was, well, going to hire me anyway.

Bradley’s critique is pretty rich coming from a politician who is a master of aggrandizing himself with his scared white flight suburban constituency and who, in the words of Dallas criminal-defense lawyer Robert Guest, “is only an election away from becoming Ollie the Cabdrivertising Criminal Attorney.”

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0 responses to “Maybe He Meant it as Praise?”

  1. Being the big Kahuna in the criminal blawgosphere, you’re going to have to get used to having a target painted on your back. It just goes with the territory.

  2. Whether or not a reason you blog is to get clients is something you’d know better than anybody else. If you were to say that’s not a motivation at all, I’d believe you; why not?

    But . . . lemme back up for a moment. I’m not exactly a likely client for a Texas criminal defense attorney, given that I interact with oysters (and other protected species) many hundreds of miles away from the Republic’s borders, making it unlikely that I’ll be charged with a Texas oyster (or other) felony, but . . .

    Were I to find myself unfortunate enough to be a non-consensual visitor in a Harris County jail cell, yours is the number I’d be calling, and if I could afford you and if you were available, I’d be hiring you. Perhaps I’m not alone in that; almost certainly, were it not for blogging, I wouldn’t have heard about you, and therefore, I wouldn’t have, at this point, formed any opinion about your lawyering.

    So, if I were to hire you, it likely wouldn’t be the case that I would have hired you anyway, except for the blog.

    Okay, granted, I’m an outlier, as well as a professional liar. But let’s assume that you actually get a client or two (or two dozen) that you wouldn’t have gotten without the blog; that’s certainly possible, whether or not it’s happened. (I’m not sure how many consumers — or trusted friends of consumers — of criminal defense lawyers’ services in Harris County read legal blogs, but it could happen.)

    And let’s also assume that among your motivations for blogging is getting clients. (You’re the foremost expert in the world on what your own thinking is, of course; if that’s not the case, the thought experiment still works, I think; bear with me for a moment.)

    What, precisely (or even approximately) would be wrong with that, in and of itself?

    Here’s when it would be wrong for you to do it: if you honestly believed that you weren’t any good at this criminal lawyering stuff, and that a client who hired you would necessarily be better off looking elsewhere. (Somehow or other, I doubt that that’s the case.)

    If not — if you actually think that you might be able to be good at representing some accused people — what would be wrong, in and of itself, with marketing for them via this blog? (If you’re going to argue that you put in n hours blogging, and it would be a silly waste of time if the only reason was to get m clients paying x in fees, and that’s a different matter. Sure. But, to paraphrase you, if while — and as an intentional part of — “spreading the gospel of freedom” you were also, as a deliberate, intentional consequences, to make a few bucks therefrom, what would be wrong with that?)

    That’s what I was babbling on about on twitter.

    • JDog,

      It’s good that the relationships I form with my regular readers might lead them to consider letting me represent them. I’ve got no problem with that.

      Most people looking for lawyers aren’t following the blogs regularly, and on any given day I’m as likely to say something that spooks momma as something that makes her think I’m the right guy to help Junior out of a jam. I’ve had maybe three clients ever tell me that they read the blog. (More started reading it after hiring me, which is good — an educated client is a good thing.)

      So if this were an effort to get clients, especially if it were “only” an effort to get clients, it’d be a colossal stinking waste of time.

  3. I had to rewatch the video the get the quote right- blawgs are “useful tools for dragging in clients” and “getting your name out in the public.”

    I was shocked to learn I’m not in JB’s favorites. A bigger shock, on the video JB was wearing a Jerry Garcia tie that I have.

  4. Why would JB know or think blawgs were “useful tools for dragging in clients?” It’s nice to know that when you’re presenting at a State Bar Ethics CLE that you can pretty much just make stuff up.

    Also, RG, are you proud or embarrassed that you and JB have the same tie?

  5. The tie in question was removed from my collection after my wife decided I didn’t want to wear it anymore. I thought it was great when I bought it. It looks better on JB though.

  6. Although my phraseology may have been sloppy, I wasn’t trying to point out anything other than the growth of blogs as used by prosecutors, defense attorneys and even judges. Blog on.

  7. I’m confused – was it meant in a disparaging way or not?

    I could see where you might get a client from your blog, but I sure wouldn’t plan my kids college education on it.

  8. Bradley’s an . . . . [BigJolly, while I’m not unsympathetic, this violates the rule against anonymous ad hominem attacks. MB]

    Like the new look, hated the last one.

  9. I’ve got a quote from John Bradley in Grits’ sidebar where he called me “unrestrained and uneducated” on the prosecutors’ association user forum. Recently Bradley contacted me and asked me to take down the quote because he was apparently embarrassed by it. While I agree he SHOULD be embarrassed, as he also should by his silly comment about you, I refused to remove it and told him if he didn’t like being quoted he should watch his mouth when speaking publicly. Apparently that advice didn’t sink in.

      • Sheesh. Scrolling down reading these comments before I replied when I realized I’d been beaten to the punch.

        Was gonna point out that Grits has Bradley’s “unrestrained and uneducated” quote in his bragging points!

        Didn’t you used to have something similar on a sidebar, Mark? Mpt from Bradley, dont’ remember from whom. Maybe I’m thinking about the “no humor when it comes to authority figures” (got that wrong, I know)

  10. BTW, Big Jolly is not “anonymous,” at least to me. While, just in case. I’d request his permission before attaching a proper name to his pseudonym in a blog comment, as far as I know he’s no more anonymous than I am just because I use the nom de plume “Grits.”

    Are SOURCED ad hominem attacks okay? 🙂

  11. I would be glad to submit my full name, address and phone number when making ad hominem attacks on the character, or lack thereof, of people like John Bradley.

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