Another Lawyer Being Fake Online


When Norm Pattis was being real, I enjoyed reading him even when he and I fought. But I confess that I have had little interest in his writings since he hired a marketer to rebrand him and his blog. Norm is no longer being real.

Norm is a fighter, but on his blog he picks at people passive-aggressively, referring to other bloggers without naming or linking to them, and even posting confrontational posts and then later removing them while disclaiming any interest in fighting. Opinion written with an eye to marketing, no matter how artfully framed, has little interest to me, and Norm’s marketer seems to have rebranded him from a legendary picker of fights and thrower of bombs  to the chief cheerleader of a kinder, gentler (or at least less candidly combative) blawgosphere—The Happysphere. And so Norm’s blog dropped off my “must-read” list.

My curation of the Rakofsky Compendium led me, however, to two of Norm’s posts that, taken together, are worth mentioning here.

In May, in Rakofsky v, Blawgosphere: Who’ll Blink First, Norm wrote:

I watched the blawgosphere flame out over Rakofsky in April, and almost joined the chorus myself.

In June, on the other hand, in Mr. Rakofsky’s Professional Suicide—And Time I’ll Never Get Back, Norm wrote:

When it was reported that a District of Columbia judge declared a mistrial in a felony murder case because of Rakofsky’s incompetence, the blawgosphere apparently erupted in self-righteous fury. “See what happens when a newbie markets too aggressively? See? See? See?” I confess, I missed the controversy.

It cannot be true that Norm both:

  1. Missed the controversy when the blawgosphere apparently erupted in self-righteous fury; and
  2. Watched the Blawgosphere flame out and almost joined the chorus.

One or both of those statements are untrue.

Norm bemoans self-righteousness in others. In Norm’s marketing writing, if not in his mind, it’s him against the pack—the “self-righteous mob,” “the pack.” In a world of self-righteous law bloggers, Norm is the only humble man. He calls himself “contrarian”; I call him a hypocrite.

Norm, I am not uncomfortable being called self-righteous. If I were, I wouldn’t write things like this or this (or this)—not that I think their tone is self-righteous, but when you’re passionate about what’s right people who disagree are going to call you all sorts of names. You know this, and you too didn’t used to care.

I don’t begrudge you trying to turn a buck on the Internet. Times are tough all over, and if you need to brand yourself as the Second Greatest Lawyer America Has Ever Seen and the Only Wise Lawyer Blogging, more power to you. If Platform Strategy Tools tells you it’ll pull clients in, who am I to argue?

But when you claim to have “missed the controversy” and yet to have “almost joined the chorus,” you’ve left yourself little room make the additional claim that those who, understanding the controversy, being right about it (that a lawyer shouldn’t, for his first trial experience, take the first chair in a murder trial), and writing about it—each to his own audience—are acting as a “self-righteous pack.” Cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.


2 responses to “Another Lawyer Being Fake Online”

  1. Stupid question: What leads you to conclude that the changes are due to marketers and marketing, as opposed to simply a change in thinking? Not that it matters. The two posts collide regardless of how he got there.

    Full disclousre: Part of my curiosity is driven by needing to speak at the Oregon Trial Lawyers Assoc annual conference re social media and messaging. I expect to make the Rakofsky fiasco part of my focus and will likely cite your compendium post and others in the blawgosphere as resources. The continuing fallout simply gives me more material.

    • David, it’s a fine question. The timing of the change in thinking and the rollout of the new blog / website branding plan is suspect; the post that was removed and replaced with something more happysphere-friendly suggests that the truth is being concealed.

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