It’s been eight months since I started Notes from the (Legal) Underground, and more than 500 posts and 1200 comments have been filed away—yet this weblog can still be a little daunting for first-timers, who might not understand my quirky sense of humor, my personal bias in favor of lawyers (especially plaintiffs' lawyers), and my vision for this weblog, which is still just a weblog, even if I have a vision for it. So in the spirit of “How to Read a Blog" from The Indiana Law Blog and Rain Man 2’s “Reader’s Manual,” I offer you the following eleven tips on how to read this weblog:
1. Sit down at your computer late at night with a tall drink. Cue up some soothing background music of your choosing. Your children, pets and live-in guests should all be asleep.
2. Close your eyes for a moment and clear your mind. Forget that while you are spending time on this weblog, your favorite weblog authors might be posting on others. Rid yourself of any desire to look at other weblogs. Forget that other weblogs even exist.
3. Become resolved to the fact that this weblog contains virtually no pornography.
4. Get to know your author, Evan Schaeffer—that is, me. You can read some of my publishing credits here and here. You can read about my law firm here. My professional statistics reside here. For a take on how I see the world, read this site’s disclaimer, which is also a short autobiography. For a picture in which I'm slightly intoxicated, look here. For another picture in which I'm very sober, and in which I summarize my legal and writing career in just a few paragraphs, see here.
5. Understand how I’ve organized my weblog. Posts are organized into “categories” that you can find in a link in the right column. I also have a section on the right called “Greatest Hits,” which contains some posts that either received a lot of comments or that are personal favorites of mine. If none of this makes sense to you, Raymond Ward explains weblog-navigation here.
6. If you want to forget about the whole category idea, you can read this weblog like a book of short essays organized into chapters. Some of the essays are comical, some aren’t. Although some of these categories are now dormant, there's plenty to keep you busy for hours:
- Types of Lawyers (my take on the question, “If I’m going to be a lawyer, what type of lawyer should I be?”--examples are The Lawyer Who Advertises on TV and The Lawyer Who Brings Her Breast Pump to the Office);
- Advice (I answer letters from lawyers, judges, and others; though readers sometime think these letters are real, they aren’t);
- War Stories (my personal stories from the trenches of the practice of law, only slightly exaggerated--examples are The Horror of One Lawyer's First Deposition and One Lawyer's Gambling Confession);
- Longer Comic Essays (not a permanent category as yet, these include The Trial Lawyer’s Prayer, The Legal Underground Tort Reform Glossary, The Circle of Advisors and The Collected Four-Part Examination of the Lawyer’s Briefcase);
- Tips From the Machiavellian Lawyer (slightly cryptic quotes from a crafty lawyer friend, who might reside only in my mind);
- Thoughts About Tort Reform (there’s nothing comic about these thoughts—I think the whole “tort reform” idea is misguided, and in these posts, I give my reasons why and work hard to defend the lawyers and judges of Madison County, Illinois, against unfair criticism from outsiders with evil motives);
- Favorite Things (short posts about some of my favorite things);
- Weekly Posts About My Law Practice (these posts about my travails as a plaintiffs' lawyer are contained in “The Practice” category, and are numbered for your convenience; they continue through #50 on January 1, 2005, when they end, replaced by a weekly Saturday entry on other weblogs.)
7. Get to know my publishing schedule. My busy staff of lawyers, editors, personal advisors, rewrite men and proofreaders work around the clock to bring you a couple of posts each day, plus The Weekly Guest Post (Wednesdays); and the Stankowski Report (Thursdays).
8. Conclude that you are lucky to have found this weblog, even if it does feature the occasional obnoxious self-promoting post like this one. Remember to check in every now and then for news from Madison County, Illinois, and details about my brushes with celebrity lawyers and non-lawyer celebrities like Norman Mailer and Christopher Hitchens. In the event that you are totally turned off by this weblog, try my Illinois Trial Practice Weblog (where I try to pass on what I've learned to other, younger lawyers) or the Illinois Personal Injury Weblog (for clients of my firm).
9. Be sure to leave lots of comments. All comments are welcome! If you have a weblog and it has a trackback feature, ping me. All pings are welcome! If you want to be a guest, please ask. That’s what Wednesdays are for. Details here.
10. Bookmark this weblog. Resolve to tell all your friends about it. If you are a literary agent, call me at once so I can find more ways to avoid doing what I should really should be doing, which is earning great gobs of money as a lawyer that I can use to send my four children off to college.
11. Promise yourself that you will purchase all future books, whether fiction or non-fiction, by Evan Schaeffer, if and when I write them.
And that’s it. As always, I apologize in advance for the length of lengthy posts like this one. In a perfect world, all weblog posts would be 300 words or less. But our world, sorry to say, is far from perfect. You'll have to get used to it.