Has your lawyer been published?
One way that a lawyer can demonstrate their knowledge and experience is to have a written work published to be read by other lawyers. I don’t consider an article written for public consumption being published as you have to water the topic down to make it understandable that it is not often useful for other lawyers. As a result, it is a rather basic article that just about any lawyer can write. Publishing material for the legal community is a whole different story. You have to back up what you say with other authorities because others will rely on what you have to say.
Most lawyers that seek to get published in a weekly newspaper that is distributed to lawyers, judges and other people in the legal community. Sometimes, these newspapers distribute special sections or magazines that focus on a special topic. While newspapers get thrown out, these special sections or magazines become part of many lawyer’s library for years to come as they can be an essential reference.
In February of 2013, New Jersey Lawyer magazine published a special white collar crime edition that was full of great articles from some of the top criminal defense lawyers in New Jersey. I was honored to not only be published in that magazine but I was the only lawyer to have written article that focused on defending child pornography. After it was published, I received a number of calls, emails and letters from other lawyers telling me that it was a well-written piece. When you write something like, you wonder if anyone will read it and if it will be helpful. It was nice to hear that it was!
Another publication for more complex articles is a law journal and/or law review. Every law school has one and some have even more than one. Most of the time, law reviews or law journals are written by law school students or professors. However, some lawyers will submit articles or be asked to co-author an article. In 2004, I was honored to be asked to co-author an article with Professor Susan Brenner. She is one the world’s leading authorities on cyber crime issues. Along with Brian Carrier, the three of us focused this article on “the Trojan Horse Defense in Cybercrime Cases”. It was real cutting-edge stuff at the time and it kind of still is. There have been cases where people have used the Trojan horse defense to successfully defeat a charge. This article details all of the possible issues with the defense and it was published in the Santa Clara Law & Technology Journal. Ironically enough, I have talked to prosecutors that have used that article to shut down this defense when it was raised by fellow defense attorneys. Had my colleagues read the article as well, they may have focused on a better defense at the beginning of the case instead of wasting their time on this one.
Of course, just because a lawyer is published, does not mean that he or she is a great trial lawyer. However, it does help to demonstrate the experience and knowledge of the lawyer. It also helps to establish the lawyer as an authority on that subject.