Finding The Right Name For A Criminal Law Blog

by Jamison Koehler on February 25, 2010

Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice wrote a complimentary piece about this blog earlier this week. While I was very flattered to be described as “one of the newest and brightest additions to the blawgosphere,” Greenfield continued to encourage me to change the name of this blog.  Wrote Greenfield in a postscript:

“Jamison, attempting to straddle the marketing blawgosphere and the substantive blawgosphere, goes by the name Koehler Law Blawg in the hope that it will draw business to him, while allowing him to write substantive posts and participate in the blawgosphere.  While his posts are interesting, his writing is excellent and he’s got much to offer, my emphasis on the substantive blawgosphere rather than the marketing blawgosphere precludes my linking to his ‘marketing name.’ I hope that asides such as this will push Jamison to forego the marketing angle and give his blawg a real name, so that I can provide more helpful link love in the future.”

Jamie Spencer, referring to himself as “The Other Jamie,” offered a different perspective:

“I’m going to respectfully disagree with your characterization of Jamie’s blog title as an overly SEO type name. Calling it the ‘Koehler Law Blog’ is not going to be particularly helpful to any potential marketing efforts. Anyone looking for him by name, is probably a past client, or has been referred to him, and he probably ranks fairly high up in the natural Google results for people who query any variation of his name and the words law, lawyer, criminal defense, etc.??Now, on the other hand, if he had gone live with some ridiculous title like ‘The Washington D.C. Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog’ … that would be another story.”

Spencer wrote the last sentence with a touch of irony.  He practices criminal law in Austin, Texas.  The name of his blog?  Austin Criminal Defense.

Greenfield is absolutely correct in saying that I use this blog as a marketing tool for my law practice.  It’s true.  I do. I use it at least in part to increase traffic to my website, which is targeted at potential clients in the D.C. area.  But, as I told Greenfield in a comment to the entry, I did not choose the name as part of this marketing effort. No, he has only my lack of imagination to blame for that.  “Koehler Law Blog” is certainly better than the name that originally appeared on this blog:  “Blog.”

I am certainly not wedded to the name, and would welcome any suggestions. Greenfield offered to organize a contest to re-name the blog, but he warned that he couldn’t do that unless I agreed to accept whatever name the winner came up with. And the result of that, he said, might not be pretty. Instead, I might need to put my father to work on this. My father, after all, is the man who came up with “Because It’s Zayre!” for the old department store of the same name. Maybe if the store had listened to him, it wouldn’t have gone out of business.

The problem with being a latecomer to the blogging business is that all the good names have already been taken. For example, if you ever participated in the same fantasy football league as I, you would know that my two favorites team names are Not Guilty (zero wins and three losses) and Res Ipsa Loquitur (one win and two losses).

Take “Not Guilty,” which would be my undisputed first choice.  There is nothing sweeter to a criminal defense lawyer’s ear than those two words.  They evoke the thrill you feel in the stunned moment of silence after the verdict has been read when the client turns toward you with that look of surprise and disbelief.  Do you mean I can go home now?  The first time I heard those two words, I had to suppress the great feeling of elation that came over me. I didn’t want to gloat or to appear unprofessional.  But I have to admit that the client and I did high-five each other out in the hallway when no one else was looking.

Unfortunately, “Not Guilty” has already been taken.  Actually, it has been used a couple of times.  One of my favorite bloggers, Mirriam Seddiq, has done justice to the name in her blog.  She herself had to change the name to “Not Guilty No Way” when she found out that someone else had already claimed the name.

“Res Ipsa Loquitur” would be my second choice.  I don’t know what it is about that phrase that has always appealed to me since I first heard it in Torts class during first year of law school.  Said the professor at the time:  “I am about to teach you a great Latin phrase which you can all use to impress your families over the Thanksgiving holidays.” Maybe it’s because the term bespeaks a certain elequence and plainspokenness:  “the thing speaks for itself.”  But that name too is already being used, again very ably, this time by Jonathan Turley.

If I were inclined to use Latin, the other phrase that has always appealed to me is Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caellum.  While the Latin itself is kind of cumbersome, the translation into English is poetic: “Let Justice Rule, Though the Heavens May Fall.”  But it’s too long.  Besides, as someone told me, the phrase could be misinterpreted. The Europeans, for example, use a similar phrase when they intend to be sarcastic.

For the time being at least, absent any bright ideas from my father or anyone else, I am left with the name as it is.  I also note that, despite Greenfield’s threat not to add this blog to his blogroll until I changed the name, my blog did in fact appear recently on the Simple Justice blogroll.  Greenfield did this quietly when he thought no one was looking.  Please don’t tell him I noticed.

4 Comments on “Finding The Right Name For A Criminal Law Blog

  1. How about simply shortening your third choice to “Let Justice Rule,” or “Fiat Justitia”?

    The best suggestion in your post, however, was your father’s rejected line: “Because it’s Zayre!” I’d go with that.

    “Koehler Law Blawg” is fine, but boring. I’m not among those who would pass judgment on that naming decision, but I do think it’s a missed opportunity. IMO naming one’s blog generically in hopes of maximizing search engine hits really misses the point. My blog is named Grits for Breakfast, for heaven’s sake, which couldn’t be less related to its subject matter. But the site gets around 2,000 visitors per weekday, just more than half of those from search engines. It’s regular, quality content, not the blog name, that triggers Google’ algorithms.

    I honestly doubt blogging helps much with marketing for most workaday criminal defense lawyers. The main reasons to do it are that it’s fun and you want to. Glad to find your site; I’ll put the rss in my reader and check back.

  2. I’d wanted to use “For the Defense,” but it was taken, which is why my name shows up in mine.

    “Acquittals R Us” has some cachet, no? And it might drive business your way.

  3. I am honored to have comments from two heavyhitters in the criminal law blawgosphere, the authors of Grits for Breakfast and Gamso — for the Defense. I am an avid reader of both blogs. Thanks for visiting this site.

    Although “Let Justice Rule” would certainly work, it is actually the latter part of the phrase that appeals to me, the part about the heavens falling. I’ll have to think about it.

    And Grits is probably right about the marketing advantages of the blog, though I’m not ready to admit this to Greenfield yet. I started out blogging because that’s what all the how-to books told me I should do. Now I do it because I enjoy it.

    I don’t even really know what an RSS is. I guess it’s about time I figured it out.

    Finally, I’ll pass on the compliment on “Because It’s Zayre!” to my father. He will be pleased. In truth, he has come up with many slogans that have never been used. That was one of his finer efforts. In the less fine category would be one he came up with for Finast: “The store that looks as good from the back as it does from the front.”

  4. I quietly do you a solid and you use it against me? Nice. I have a long memory, Koehler. A long memory.

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