Many, many moons ago, from 1995 to 1999, I published the first-ever newsletter to cover the Internet for lawyers, legal.online. Every year, we doled out awards we called “Best of the Web for Lawyers.” The recipients of these awards were selected by panels of judges that included trailblazers in leading the legal profession online, including Erik Heels, Gregory Siskind, Jerry Lawson, Genie Tyburski, and Bradley Hillis. Invariably, in categories such as “Best Legal Information Starting Point” and “Best Legal Research Site,” the top award would go to FindLaw, which in those days was operated by the husband-and-wife team of Tim Stanley and Stacy Stern.
In 2001, Thomson bought FindLaw from Tim and Stacy. In 2005, I wrote a series of posts critical of FindLaw, saying that Thomson had let it deteriorate as a legal resource. “The deterioration of FindLaw’s index is so extreme as to call into question its usefulness as a primary resource for legal professionals,” I wrote then. (It has since turned itself around, while targeting itself more to consumers than to legal professionals.)
Meanwhile, Tim and Stacy went on to found a new company, Justia. As I noted in a post here in 2007, Justia started out with a focus on “legal marketing solutions,” creating websites and blogs and providing search engine optimization. Increasingly, Justia devoted itself to public-interest projects — notably the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center and Recall Warnings — and to building Justia into the kind of legal resource that FindLaw had earlier foreshadowed, adding such innovations as Justia Dockets & Filings, the Justia Supreme Court Center, BlawgSearch for searching law-related blogs, Blawgs.fm for searching law-related podcasts, and LegalBirds for finding legal professionals on Twitter.
Justia to the Rescue
Where am I going with this? Well, a couple months ago, when Blogger announced it would shut down support for blogs published via FTP, I wondered what to do with this blog, which I had published via Blogger since its launch in 2002. In a post in March, I questioned whether I should just shut this blog down and start anew. I knew I wanted to move to WordPress and I thought I wanted to move to a new domain, but I was concerned about losing my permalinks and all those accumulated years of “link love.”
In response to my concerns, I received a number of helpful pieces of advice and offers of assistance. But by far the most generous offer I received was from Tim at Justia, who offered not only his advice, but his assistance in migrating LawSites from Blogger to WordPress and in creating a new design template — all for free. Given the respect I’d developed over the years for the work of Tim, Stacy and Justia, I was bowled over by this offer. At the same time, I was reluctant to accept it, for the simple reason that something in my gut is opposed to taking anything for free.
But after mulling it over and considering my options, I decided to take Tim up on it. In order to make it as easy as possible for the Justia folks, I sent them some links to resources I had found on migrating off of Blogger and I suggested some WordPress templates that I’d be happy with. I naively and severely underestimated what work would be involved and, more to the point, what work they would do.
The blog you see now is the result of Justia’s work and I cannot begin to express my thanks to them. They spent over a month on this project and I am thrilled with the result. I want to express my enormous thanks to the Justia people who worked on this:
- Soby Mathew, who did the design, conversion and templates.
- Nick Moline, who did the server set-up, blog import, modules and tweaks.
- Ken Chan, who did quality assurance.
- Cicely Wilson and Vasu Kappettu, who functioned as project managers, coordinating it all and making it all happen. I owe a particular thanks to Vasu, who kept me informed at every step and responded generously to every question and concern I had.
Needless to say, I wish to extend a huge thank you to Tim and Stacy for their generosity and for all the great work they’ve done over the years and continue to do.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention that, if you like what you see here, you can get Justia to design a website or blog for you. Check out their work here. They even offer free templated sites for lawyers.