Issue 1, Semester 2
When I was still in high school, a friend’s older brother dropped out of medicine in his penultimate semester. Within the insular community of private school parents and teachers, this move caused quite a scandal. Why would somebody walk away from years invested in an incredibly prestigious and lucrative postgraduate degree, with its attendant career and income prospects, a mere nine months from completion? My friend’s brother claimed that he simply realised that he didn’t enjoy medicine and saw no benefit in completing the degree. He now works as head ‘coffee-master’ at a vegan café.
Issue 1, Semester 2
The use of social media is not typically seen as a natural part of the law. Whilst the rise of digital platforms in commercial contexts has created a swathe of new legal issues; ranging from the legality of wills updated via Facebook to misleading advertising charges levelled against Instagrammers who fail to identify posts as sponsored content; barring networking platforms such as LinkedIn, the actual use of social media by the legal sector has been an underdeveloped practice. Client information and communication is privileged and needs to be kept off of unsecured digital channels. Legal work is often dry and information heavy, not easily translated into the concise and visual-centric language of the internet. In many cases, a perceived reputational mismatch exists, with practitioners viewing the flashy and attention-hungry mediums of the online world as beneath the dignity of a serious and respected profession. However, with structural shifts in the nature of communication and marketing in an increasingly digital economy, more firms are turning to social media to brand their services and reach prospective customers. At the periphery of this transition is the incipient phenomenon of the legal influencer — law practitioners who supplement or wholly replace their client activities with business models based around cultivating online personalities and engaging audiences to market themselves or other legal products.
This practice is not, strictly speaking, new. In the nineties and early thousands, the advent of high-profile criminal trials thrust a number of lawyers into the spotlight as ‘celebrity attorneys’. During the media focus on the famous OJ Simpson murder trial, members of the defence team such as Robert Shapiro and Johnny Cochran became almost household names. Whilst these individuals were undoubtedly skilful at blending criminal defence with the quasi-PR and spin doctor role which suited the cable news culture of those decades, they were lawyers first with their reputations arising from their presence during high visibility historical moments rather than dedicated mechanics of personal branding. The modern marketing phenomenon of influencers, by contrast, hardly seems like an organic development for these personalities. Influencers are individuals, usually young and attractive, who communicate visible consumption or attach advertisements to content as a form of paid marketing for brands, often in fashion and lifestyle industries. The focus is conspicuously on the use and recommendation of products and services rather than on actual creation by the influencers themselves. Legal advice does not fit this mould. It is usually individually tailored and can only be consumed by one client at a time. It is hardly appealing or sexy — few millnnials are crying out for a hot take on the intricacies of contract negotiation by their favourite Instagram celebs.
There are, however, exceptions. A growing number of internet-savvy professionals have taken to platforms such as YouTube to create content of the 'law-as-entertainment' variety, a natural extension from the popularity of legal dramas in television, ranging from accessibly packaged legal commentary on political machinations of interest to the public, to humorous and satirical takes on the depiction of law and pseudo-legalese in popular culture. These creators — aiming their products at the public at large, often monetize themselves through advertisements or mentions of businesses, such as website creation tools or personal efficiency applications. Other spaces are opening up too for the dedicated marketing of tools to legal professionals, particularly in legal technology and automation. A thriving market in process automation, case management, research and billing services aimed exclusively at lawyers is already creating roles for prominent voices dedicated to championing and promoting services within the industry. Although these individuals are often self-stylised with more professionally palatable titles such as ‘legal technology experts’ or managerial trend-worthy terms such as ‘thought leaders’, the underlying business model of cultivating a personal brand of visible expertise to sell influence is strikingly similar. Currently these sales mechanisms take the form of blogs and speaking engagements, but as opportunities for global reach improve, and younger generations of internet-literate practitioners enter the industry, movements toward the use of established social media platforms and vehicles seem likely.
Speculating on the future trajectory of these trends is a fun game. It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see a massive spike in lawyers running Instagram accounts to sell posts about their holiday destinations or boutique makeup. However, the possibility of a new market for lawyers to develop and market targeted personalities in the professional arena is very possible. Personal branding may well become a key tool of the future lawyer’s trade.
Edgar is a Second Year JD Student.
Issue 1, Semester 2
SONJA SANTA MARIA
Are we heading in the right direction as a society?
Are there things we need to revise possibly?
More regulation, more restriction, more caution
But oh, be mindful of those who live off indignation
Progression is always welcomed, please do not be confused
But know that sometimes movements can be misused
Acceptance and tolerance of diversity is the right attitude
But please don’t shove down my throat how I should eat my food
My next line is a controversial question,
One that I am sure will receive condemnation
Is the excessive use of content warnings making us soft?
How will we watch the news or learn things with irked hands aloft?
If it is right to expect our every visual interaction to be cushioned,
Should trypophobes fight to remove that Lincoln Square ‘art installation’?
So while I’m at it, I might as well offer more wild suggestions:
Perhaps political correctness stifles some necessary conversations
‘Radical’ opinions may stay hidden or anonymous until they find alliances
Because fear of being politically incorrect and receiving backlash silences Without presenting all views, how fruitful is debating?
Without such dialogue, where is the possible mutual understanding?
Could beliefs be ‘radical’ purely due to its uniqueness in presence?
Rather than for being so far departed from the normative in essence?
Can you think of a particular example of a ‘radical’ coming into power?
Oh how surprised were we when we realised his support hiding undercover
My point is, are we too quick to cry foul without listening to the other?
Importantly, are we becoming a society more susceptible to being sheltered?
Certainly, there are sensitive instances that need to be handled delicately
But intemperate expectations heighten compensation culture in society
A balanced-approach seems the right step, but where is the equilibrium?
Maybe asking wilder questions and reflecting could be the minimum?
I realise that I pose more questions than answers, yes
But I too am meandering my way through this mess
I found it enlightening to read ‘On Dignation’ by Don Watson
So to you I recommend it and hope enlightening ideas may blossom
— Sonja Santa Maria
Sonja is a Third Year JD Student and one of the De Minimis Podcast Editors 2019.
Issue 1, Semester 2
Out to check the bore-mill:
the Datsun in the dust,
The dried out bones of dingos,
the taste and smell of rust,
the sticky sting and stench of sweat
Foretold the fate he met.
The Datsun stripped of all its paint,
found miles ‘way from the bore
Had halfway sunk into the sand.
The tattered shirt the boy once wore
Was found by searchcars, now a kite
With bones for beams bereft of flight.
All questions of his final thoughts
can now be put to bed;
Cold scratchings on his tin canteen
show what was in his head:
“James, my folt. I always love you Mum + Dad, Jason, Michelle, Joanne.”
When there’s things that need be done, we do the things we can.
— John Badgery
John is a Second Year JD Student
Issue 1, Semester 2
With the uncertainty of a new semester, it’s reassuring to place your faith in the wisdom of astronomy. De Minimis has consulted the stars on your behalf to reveal what is in store for you for the second half of the year.
Aries With Mercury rising in retrograde, love is in the air. Look to your left. You and the person sitting there will fall madly in love by the end of the semester. If you’re sitting alone, I don’t know, sucks to be you, I guess?
Issue 1, Semester 2
DE MINIMIS EDITORIAL TEAM
Last semester we let you know we’ve been thinking about the comments section and whether the system needed any changing. Before we make any big changes, it’s important to us that you know why we’re doing this and that you can be a part of the discussion on what happens (because we love our readers).
A lot of you responded to us with lots of opinions (thank you!). 74% of respondents felt that a challenge for us was that there are comments of a bullying/harassing nature, 63% that people felt empowered to leave nasty comments, and 52% that comments contained personal attacks. By contrast, 7% felt that there were no problems. Of some of the changes that you felt would be beneficial, 47% said commenters signing up to a commenting platform would be a good change. Still, 44% wanted the option for commenters to remain anonymous and 47% that commenters could use a pseudonym when commenting. In light of all of this, we wanted to trial a new commenting platform next week, which is one used on news and blog sites across the interwebs (Disqus).
Commenters need to sign up for an account using an email (which remains anonymous, we can’t see it) or Facebook/ Google. You can be as anonymous or transparent as you want about who you are (call yourself HorsePersonLover_13 if you want), but you’ll need to sign in to comment. If you love the system or hate it or you’re somewhere in-between, please disqus (haha) and let us know how you feel.