Archives - September, 2009

16 Sep 09

Was that title confusing? At first I wrote “Political Statement to Follow”, but then decided political statements generally DO require apologies on blogs where they are COMPLETELY off topic, but I think every blog should dedicate a bit of space to human rights, feeding hungry children, fighting world malaria, and LOTS more worthy causes.

So, I’m gay.  I’m pretty sure I’ve covered this in previous posts.  My partner and I have been together for 9.5 years.  Earlier this spring the Washington State Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor Christine Gregoire signed part 3 of the Domestic Partnership Rights.  This last part is casually known as the “Everything but Marriage” bill.  Normally, that would have meant that it would go into law 90 days after signed by the Governor.  However, a group of concerned citizens gathered enough voter signatures forcing the bill to go to a public vote in November.  So, you’ll be hearing more about Referendum 71.  In order for the original bill, passed by our state legislators and governor, the citizens must vote APPROVE.

So, blah blah blah… let’s put this really simple.  There are a handful of VERY important rights for domestic partners (gay couples and heterosexual couples with one partner over 62, it’s NOT just a gay thing):

  1. Death benefits for partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty – currently, they are simply abandoned by the government to not only mourn, but also to fend for themselves.
  2. Right to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner – doesn’t this sound like a basic right? Currently, I can’t take sick leave to take care of my ailing partner??? Crazy.
  3. Pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees – similar to the death benefit for police and firefighters, currently any state pension can’t be passed on to a domestic partner.
  4. Victim’s rights – I’m a little unclear about this one.  Please leave your comments to help me understand this one.
  5. Right to workers’ compensation benefits if a partner is killed in the course of employment – I had never considered this point in the past.  I had never realized that if I were killed at work, my partner would receive nothing.  But if a straight married colleague lost her life while at work, workers’ comp would pay benefits to her husband.

Anyway, hope this helps clarify some of the issues.  I was warned that I would get emotional about this topic, but I think it’s worth expressing the reality of the situation.

PLEASE give me some feedback here.  Particularly on the Victim’s Rights issue.  And, I really want to hear some sort of legitimate opposing views.  All I’ve heard so far is the same lies that were spread in California about Prop. 8 that “this bill would force schools to teach homosexuality”… whatever that means!  Got a valid argument? Do share!

Filed under: Cultural

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14 Sep 09

In the not so distant past we’ve all heard LOTS of controversy about the Lawyer Rating website called Avvo.

I had a wonderful and unique chance to sit and chat with Avvo Founder & CEO, Mark Britton, tonight at the Seattle Legal Bloggers & Twits Tweetup. Regardless of how your initial reaction is to Avvo, you really can’t help but like Mark. He’s a brilliant guy with a very impressive history of formulaic innovation.

I just want to spend a couple lines to tell you some of the highlights of what I learned about Avvo tonight. If you’re a lawyer please take this advice directly to and update your profile!

1) “Avvo scores resumes” – In Mark’s words whenever any one of us is hirings someone we scan their resume and place higher or lower value to different sections. Through the use of outside consultants, test groups of hundreds of lawyers, thousands of consumer testers, and some complicated programmers they do they same thing, except instead of just a general idea of whether or not someone is a worthy candidate they place a score on the head of the player. That score can be aided, it’s constantly fluctuating based on the age and influential value of each entry.

2) “You generally get what you deserve” – MY words, not Marks. If Avvo scanned your website to create your preliminary score and you want to complain instead of claiming your profile and modifying and WORKING for a better, more accurate score them you get out of it exact what you’ve put in… Generally only complaints!

3) “Avvo helps lawyers understand what well-rounded marketing is” – Again, my words, but influenced by my conversation with Mr. Avvo. The more experienced a lawyer is, naturally the higher the score. But just like in life, “experience” and credibility for experience don’t just get marked on the calendar as you get older. There are important milestones that tell us, and others, when we’ve reached high points and low. And sometimes it’s the balance of LOTS of points that give you a synergistic score. Years (1 point) + AV Rating (2 points) + pos Client Review (1point) might individually total 4, but in a complex mathematical world that is Avvo that score might equal 6! Synergistic scoring (my term not Mark’s). All good things add up to more good things. If you think you have enough good things, just add a few more. Have something bad? Bad review? There are ways to counter it. Look at the options. If all else fails find more good to add!

4) Got questions about how Avvo works? JUST ask Mark! He says he’s always accessible. I don’t suggest only sending hate mail. I would suggest putting together real questions about how to increase your score… But please claim your profile and do a TAD bit of homework before simply complaining about what you heard about Joe Schmoe and his score. Mark and his Avvo team do TONS of educational events, webinars and meetings. Take a couple hours and learn this tool that is revolutionizing lawyer ratings.

Even before meeting Mr. Avvo tonight I’ve been an Avvo fan. I’m usually a fan of folks who want to do things a little differently. Way to go Mark!

That’s it for now. That’s my bus blog entry for this evening (yes, BlackBerry + New WordPress Blog App + Time to Kill = Good Times!!)

Filed under: Legal

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1 Sep 09

I feel pretty well connected into Social Media, but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert… by anyone’s imagination!

However, I was talking with my good friends up a DerekMedia today, Derek Johnson & Andrew Dumont, about further developing Summit Law Group’s social media presence. This is a really tough topic for me since I’ve been doing it all up til now and I was curious about what an outside company might be able to offer insofar as changing up my own approach and “strategy” (if that’s what you can call my shot gun approach). Are there better and more practical methods that I’m not employing? LIKELY!

DerekMedia is likely a great solution for a firm like mine. First off, they are a customer and it always feels good to give business back to customers! Secondly, they have an edginess about them that I absolutely LOVE! They aren’t willing to sit idly by while the world revolves around them in the same old way it always has. They want to challenge the direction of the revolution!

Anyway, so the dilemma is: I’ve been doing all the Summit social media activity for a fair amount of time now getting things off the ground. And in the local legal community I am held in fairly high regard for innovation and approach on these issues. However, what is enough? When’s it time to say, “Yes I can, but should I? Is this the best use of my time and skill? Is there someone else who is more effective and/or efficient?” My ego says, “HELL NO! You rock!” But my intuition says, “Richard, relax. You can still ‘do’ it even if you out-house to Derek’s posse!”

Anyway, so now comes the discussion of ROI and budget and all that. But before I can touch that topic, I have to convince myself and develop convincing arguments that assistance is needed and desired.

Until next time, In-House or Out-House, help me decide! :)

Filed under: Management,Social Media

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