Every month the Louisiana Legal Ethics site publishes “This Month in Discipline.” The post reports each lawyer who was the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations published during that month.
For examples of past posts, click here: Louisiana Legal Ethics–This Month in Discipline.
Finding Discipline Cases
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board reports new orders and recommendations here: LADB Decisions. Limit the “new” decisions to those reported here. This site is not always up to date, but it is exclusivley what we use to find decisions to write about.
Writing the Monthly Post
You need to get a “User” login for the Louisiana Legal Ethics site from Prof. Ciolino. Once you do, you login, go to “Posts,” and copy the last month’s post as a template. Note that Prof. Ciolino publishes the site using WordPress; you need to learn the basics of how to use WordPress by finding a recent YouTube video.
Each post uses a simple formula:
- The name of the post is the name of the lawyer. You must hyperlink the lawyer’s name to the opinion as reported on the LADB website. Be very careful to make sure you use the correct link–particularly with the first reported decision on the site.
- The first sentence reports what the court ordered or the board recommended. For example: “The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day.” Notice you must write this in active voice.
- The next 1-2 sentences explains in narrative format the misconduct at issue. For example: “The respondent failed to provide competent representation to clients, neglected legal matters, and failed to communicate with clients.” Notice that you must write this in the active voice. Also, use the Oxford comma.
- The final sentence lists the rules that the lawyer violated. For example: “In so doing, the respondent violated Rules 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4.”
- That’s it.
For grammar, style, and usage conventions, see the last section in this post.
Prof. Ciolino publishes the “This Month in Discipline” post on the last day of each month. Please have a draft ready on that day (of course, check the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary website at the end of the day to be sure that there are no new opinions).
Once you are done writing the post, proofread it very carefully. Then save it in “Draft” format, and send Prof. Ciolino an email that it is done.
What Makes a Good Topic?
The blog at the Louisiana Legal Ethics website publishes short articles on topics that lawyers in general and Louisiana lawyers in particular would want to read about.
Research what generally makes a good “blog” post. You can do a search for “blog writing tips” that will yield innumerable posts reflecting different ideas about what makes a good topic for a blog post. Here are some basic tips:
- Readers like lists, numbered, bulleted, etc. For example, “Top Ten Things to Avoid,” “Three Things to Remember,” “To Do,” “What Not to Do,” and the like.
- Instead of an explanation or annotation of the black letter law, identify a question and answer it, for example: “How Long Must I Keep This File?”
- People like to be guided to more information or different points of view on a given topic. If you can include a meaningful hyperlink, please do.
- To find topics, research new case law and ethics opinions on Bloomberg Law, Westlaw, LexisNexis, and the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct. Also consider law review articles, treatises, and news articles to come up with interesting ideas or valuable links.
Here my running list of possible blog post topics:
Writing the Post
Once you choose a topic, write the post. Here are some guidelines for doing so:
- Keep it short; no more than 3-4 paragraphs.
- Always hyperlink to the source documents.
- Insert a relevant image. Resize the image to 300 x 150. You can use this online image resizer to do this.
Grammar, Style, and Usage
- Use the Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style.
- Use The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. Use strict Bluebook cite form with one exception—citations to Louisiana cases must not follow the public domain citation format. Louisiana cases must be cited using only the Southern Reporter citation. If no Southern Reporter cite is available, use a Westlaw citation. If no Westlaw citation is available, cite as a slip opinion. For Louisiana circuit court opinions, always include the circuit. For example: State v. Roe, 238 So. 3d 345 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 2017); State v. Doe, 2017 WL 83956964589 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. Dec. 3, 2017); State v. Loe, No. 17-3984 (La. Dec. 8, 2017). Note that there is a space between So. and 3d.
- Use topic sentences in every paragraph.
- Write short sentences using active voice.
- Always write in the active voice. For example: “The court suspended the respondent for 6 months.” Not: “The respondent was suspended for six months.”
- Generally prefer past tense. For example: “The respondent pleaded guilty to the crime of theft.”
- Use the Oxford comma.
- Never use the word “attorney”; use the word “lawyer” instead. However, see the preceding rule.
- When making rule statements, use the singular term “a lawyer.” For example, say “a lawyer must not steal.” Don’t say: “lawyers must not steal.”
- Use “pleaded guilty”; not “pled guilty.”