Scott Greenfield Has Left The Building

by Jamison Koehler on February 14, 2012

Scott Greenfield is gone.

He must have planned this in advance. How else could he have achieved the perfect symmetry of ending the blog exactly five years to the day of posting his first entry?  At the same time, whether or not he told anyone else about his plans, it is clear he did not tell what would appear to be his closest friends in the blogosphere. They too were left speculating on Twitter about the meaning of his enigmatic last entry.

Greenfield could be exasperating. That is why I read him every day. He could insult, criticize, and rant. The next moment he could produce one of the most honest and insightful blog entries you had ever read. Take a position, he advised. Stand for something.

The signs, I realize now, have been there for a while. He continued to write on variations of his favorite themes:  integrity, loyalty to clients, mentorship, and the future of the legal profession. But, looking back on it now, a certain wistfulness had begun to work its way into his writing. He wrote recently about a malaise afflicting the blogosphere.  And, repeating a theme he had expressed earlier, his final entry notes how new bloggers were covering the same issues and themes he has been writing about for five years now:

They wrote good posts, and they did so without any clue that anyone had discussed the same issues before them.  It dawned on me that I’ve gone through another circle, as happens when we get older.  Every year, maybe day, new people come into the blawgosphere and it’s a rebirth, where everything old is new again.  As this thought occurred to me, I realized that my work is now part of the old, forgotten blawgosphere.  This is probably how it should be.

Of course, I got it all wrong when I first read this. While other people were bemoaning his departure, I was telling them that they were all idiots and that they were misinterpreting what read to me as simply a reflective anniversary post.  I couldn’t imagine a morning when he wasn’t up at 5:00 am, cranking out three blog posts –seven days a week — before the rest of us had drunk our morning coffee.  And, I said, do you really think he would end five years of blogging with a video of a dolphin?  As it turns out, he did end five years of blogging with a video of a dolphin.

I owe more to Greenfield than I probably care to admit.  He gave me a shout out during the early days of my blog, lending my blog at least the veneer of respectability within the criminal law blogosphere.  And the good thing about any praise from Greenfield – doled out in such a miserly fashion – was that you always knew it was genuine.  His kind words recently – almost two years after I was banished from his blogroll as a self-promoting marketer — meant far more to me than any ABA award.

At the same time, however much I basked in the praise, it was the criticism – the cryptic emails and blog comments before he threw up his hands in despair and gave up on me — that I appreciated most, however much the criticism stung.  It made me a better writer.  It made me think twice before I posted anything.

With the RSS feed now quiet, I think of an astronaut untethered in space and turning like a planet. Thank you, Scott Greenfield, and goodbye.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Norm Pattis February 15, 2012 at 2:17 am

I stopped reading him a year or so ago when he seemed to go off the deep end and began to write more about blogging than the law. Getting out for a while will be good for him. I hope he clears his system of whatever it was that transformed him from a bright guy into a tedious scold. He’ll be back soon in some form or another; the satisfaction of attending your wake lasts only so long. When he returns, I hope he writes about practicing law rather than writing about those who write about those who practice law.

DHMCarver February 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

Jamison, I came to your blog on the strength of SHG’s entry about your win, and his accolades have proven accurate. He knew well how to damn with faint praise, and it did not take much reading between the lines for a reader to know where he stood on a given issue or person. If he was giving a backhanded compliment, it was pretty evident. I think Brian has it wrong, and you have it right — he was giving you props. And pace Norm, part of what I liked about what SHG wrote were his critiques of profession. the blawgosphere, and the blawgers who inhabit it. He was a regular reality check for all of us, shining the light inwards, a lawyers Jeremiah.

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