Every year, the American Bar Association Journal ranks the top legal blogs in America, including a category called "For Fun." Although "fun lawyers" might sound like an oxymoron, this year's list includes a bunch of truly giggle-worthy blogs. I'm honored that my blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review, was again included in the group; you should check out the others too. After the nominations were announced, the 2012 "For Fun" bloggers decided to interview each other. Here, for your amusement, is the resulting group interview.
1. What is your blog about?
Law and The Multiverse (by James Daily and Ryan Davidson): Examining comic book characters and stories from a legal perspective. Or alternatively, an excuse to be huge comic book nerds while hopefully teaching people something about the law.
Lowering the Bar (by Kevin Underhill): The human condition (which currently remains at Threat Level Orange). Actually, I guess it's about whatever strikes me as funny, provided I can come up with some connection to the legal system, however remote. Also, the first letter of each post spells out an important message to future generations, crafted in a complex code of my own devising. This is its true purpose.
The Namby Pamby: Typically it is the day to day happenings in my law practice. Sometimes I branch out and talk about my favorite sports teams or some topic of the day, but mainly it is me relaying my missteps. And attempting to make them laugh while doing so.
Supreme Court Haiku Reporter (by Keith Jaasma): I take the most important legal issues of the day and completely trivialize them through bad poetry.
Allison Leotta: I recap and reality-check Law & Order: SVU for what the show gets right and wrong, from my perspective as a former sex-crimes prosecutor. (My recaps are also carried by the Huffington Post.)
ZombieLaw (by Joshua Warren): blogs about "zombies" in law and politics (from a cognitive linguistic perspective).
2. What drew you to writing your blog? (The big money, right?)
Lowering the Bar: I don't think I was drawn so much as compelled.
Allison Leotta: Blogging about TV shows' errors is way more constructive than throwing slippers at the TV. Also, when my first novel, Law of Attraction, was published, Simon & Schuster told me I "needed a platform."
S.Ct. Haiku: I had written several law review articles of 40 pages or more and was excited that 300 people downloaded them in a year. So I thought "what's the fewest number of words I could write and still call it writing." Haiku!
Law and the Multiverse: James started it on a lark after the idea was suggested by a friend over dinner. Ryan came on board after James posted it to MetaFilter.com.
Namby Pamby: I started writing during my first year of law school eight years ago as a time waster and as an attempt to make people laugh. I still try to uphold these founding principles in my posts.
ZombieLaw: I was in an academic group studying "creativity" as regards occupy wall street and #anonymous. Zombies sort of grew out of that.
3. The ABA says you are "Fun." And yet you are a lawyer. Explain.
Law and The Multiverse: We make the law fun by heavily diluting it with comic books and pop culture. It's like how gin (kind of gross) and tonic water (definitely gross) combine to make delicious gin & tonic.
Allison Leotta: Airbrushing.
Lowering the Bar: I think I wrote last year that I was proud of the honor despite the contention that being called the "most fun legal blog" was sort of like saying Moe was the smartest Stooge. I guess I would stand by that with the understanding that, just like the other Stooges were smarter than they looked on film (probably), lawyers are actually more "fun" than pop culture would suggest. Or at least there are a lot more lawyers who are in fact fun than non-lawyers might expect.
Namby Pamby: The law is a lot of fun because of the crazy people that make up the practice. Judges, court personnel, clients, opposing counsel and coworkers all provide great fodder. I try not to take whatever I am doing too seriously, it's not like I am doctor or something important.
S.Ct. Haiku: Even the ABA makes mistakes.
4. What subject has sparked the most comments on your blog?
S.Ct. Haiku: The healthcare and immigration cases. That, and people wondering why I don't tell more fart jokes.
Law and The Multiverse: We once suggested that Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) was committing fraud by selling pictures of himself as Spider-Man to a newspaper without telling the paper that he was both the photographer and the subject. People were not happy about it. It got about 50% more comments than the next highest post.
ZombieLaw: Putin's zombie gun is pretty popular.
Allison Leotta: Whether men or women commit more sex crimes. I did a (very scientific) analysis, and found that on SVU roughly 1/3 of the crimes are committed by women - while in real life, only a tiny fraction of sex offenders are female. Whenever I mention this, someone posts an article about a female perp, and it sparks a big debate.
Namby Pamby: Usually the things that I write about that are "funny" but things that I don't find hysterical. It's the weirdest thing when I find something to be the best I have ever written and I get no comments or twitter mentions but when I feel like I am forcing a post to try and find the funny, people think it is the greatest thing in the world. I try and stay non-partisan and non-controversial, however I did publish an endorsement for president and that got a lot of comments.
Lowering the Bar: Well, I don't have comments enabled, but I get lots of email. I'd guess that the most popular topic for emails has been my analyses of the important legal questions surrounding attempts to drive unusual things while intoxicated.
5. Are there any topics you won't write about? If so, write about them here.
Lowering the Bar: I would avoid making fun of clients, although, strangely, none of my firm's clients have ever done anything for which they could be mocked or even criticized. I have written two posts about a woman beating a man with his own prosthetic leg, but I'd avoid a similar story if it were the other way around. I think everything else is basically fair game.
Namby Pamby: I try and be safe for all audiences . There are times when I want to clobber someone or sometopic over the head, but that's not the focus of my blog. When I get inspired (read: pissed off enough) to write something in this arena, I typically submit it to Constitutional Daily and get it published that way. Or I just yell about a lot at home (my fiancée loves this...not.)
ZombieLaw: I do try to stay on topic, but "zombies" are everywhere and law/politics touches everything so pretty much all topics are fair game. Some recent big zombie stories that I know I have intentionally ignored are the zombie stripper calendar, the walking dead infographic and also I mostly ignored the HALO military training until Senator Coburn reported on it.
S.Ct. Haiku: I try not to focus on the death penalty part of death penalty cases. Instead I focus on exciting issues like jurisdiciton and waiver.
Law and The Multiverse: We really shy away from real-world legal issues and stick to fiction. We don't want to say "this guy who dresses up like a superhero and tries to fight crime is probably breaking the law himself" and then get slapped with a defamation suit. Nor do we want to weigh in on the IP disputes between comic book publishers, writers, and artists. No matter what side you take you lose; either the publishers hate you or the writers, artists, and fans do.
6. In a cage match, who would win: Antonin Scalia or Elena Kagan, and why?
Lowering the Bar: Scalia, because if he got in trouble he could just tag his team member, Clarence "Silent Thunder" Thomas, who would be lurking quietly unnoticed in a corner of the cage waiting for just such an opportunity.
ZombieLaw: While surely they both have tiger blood, neither is winning. It would be one hell of a cock fight but both birds would end up dead with no clear victory. It'd be like two schizophrenics arguing about who ate the last donut (there's a hole in this joke).
Law and The Multiverse: Scalia has the height advantage (5'7" to 5'3", according to IMDB of all places), and we're going to guess he has the weight advantage as well. Scalia is a Sicilian who grew up in New Jersey. Kagan grew up on the Upper West Side. We don't want to stereotype, but let's face it: Scalia is going to fight dirty. On the other hand, Kagan is 24 years younger. We'll call it a draw.
Namby Pamby: Scalia. He'd drop a verbal tonguelashing and then a vicious cross to knock her out. Besides, her comely appearance doesn't give the impression of an experienced pugilist.
Allison Leotta: To paraphrase from The Princess Bride, "Never get involved in a land war in Asia or go against a Sicilian when death is on the line."
S.Ct. Haiku: Scalia. He appears to have a lower center of gravity.
7. Where do you find the time to do this?
S.Ct. Haiku: Between the cushions of my sofa.
ZombieLaw: I don't. I was never here. The zombie did it.
Lowering the Bar: Actually, since I became a partner I've been able to force associates to write all my posts for me, so that's no problem. One of them is actually writing these answers right now. Well, one is dictating, one is typing, and one is giving me a pedicure.
Allison Leotta: While my kids are sleeping (like many working moms).
Namby Pamby: Usually when I am venting about something that happened at the office. Instead of having a meltdown, I typically just work on a post instead. [Note: No clients have been billed in the making of my jokes]
Law and The Multiverse: James's day job is in academia. Ryan may or may not have a time machine.
8. Now that you've hit the big time as a blogger, do you still practice law? Are you any good at it?
S.Ct. Haiku: I'm confident that I'm America's Finest Lawyer With A Blog Written Almost Entirely In Haiku.TM
Law and The Multiverse: We've been very lucky with a book deal and some other arrangements, but not quite "quit your day job" lucky. Our clients tell us we're good lawyers, but like all celebrities we have very fragile egos, so they may just be protecting us.
Namby Pamby: Yes, I do. I don't know if I am any good at it. There are so many ups and downs in the practice that I just savor the wins when they come and try to forget the losses as soon as they occur. Besides, I don't do advertising on my blog to generate revenue and I don't write for other sites on a pay per post basis any longer. I write for me first and foremost. It's a creative outlet that I can funnel frustration, inappropriate humor and those "I should have said this" moments. But if someone wants to start paying me big bucks for writing something, I am definitely listening. (And yes, I'd love to write a book someday)
Allison Leotta: I resigned from the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. last June. Now I just write thrillers ... about practicing law.
Lowering the Bar: Personally I think I'm pretty good at the writing part of it. Whether I "still practice law" depends on who you ask.
ZombieLaw: Yes and yes. Mostly criminal defense but also other unique individual representation.
9. If you could meet one lawyer, living or dead, and clean his or her bathroom, who would it be?
Law and The Multiverse: Justice Kagan seems like she keeps a tidy house.
ZombieLaw: When you say "clean his or her bathroom," is that a euphemism? If not, it should be. Either way, I guess I would clean Justice Cardozo's bathroom and try to see how much of that consideration he found before breakfast had come out before lunch.
Lowering the Bar: Young Abraham Lincoln, because I could then argue that he did not in fact have an actual "bathroom," just an outhouse, and I therefore had no obligation to clean it. Take that, Lincoln! Clean your own outhouse! You haven't done jack yet! Or Old Abraham Lincoln, who by that time had become a saint and therefore very unlikely to generate any waste products.
Allison Leotta: Sure, Abraham Lincoln -- or, better yet, Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln.
Namby Pamby: Jackie Chiles. I don't really have a good reason, but I figure a fictional lawyer is usually a safe bet.
S.Ct. Haiku: I will not be tricked into cleaning anyone else's bathroom, thank you very much.
10. Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about leaving their day jobs and going into writing?
Lowering the Bar: They should all immediately do it, thus opening up more legal jobs for others who will then have an income sufficient to buy all the books we will be cranking out. Everybody wins.
S.Ct. Haiku: If you make ten times as much as I do writing, you'll have zero dollars.
ZombieLaw: If you were able to get a day job then you should probably try to keep it. Of course you feel like a zombie... but the cure for zombie condition is not quitting your job - it's laughter, a pinch of salt and puppies.
Prime-Time Crime: Keep your day job for now; publishing is an unpredictable place these days. Write first thing in the morning, when you're fresh. Write without inhibitions, even if you think the prose is terrible at first. You can't be a perfectionist about your first draft. A lot of writing is editing - let yourself put the words out there so you have something to edit later.
Namby Pamby: Do this only if you are truly committed to it. I find that when I have to force myself to write (like if for a deadline, I get blocked and unfunny). I do this as a diversion and for self-entertainment. I am not sure if I could handle having to put food on the table and pay the mortgage solely by spewing witticisms.
Law and The Multiverse: Get the money up front.