One of Oscar Wilde’s aphorisms is “There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is NOT being talked about.” This is sometimes paraphrased as “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” The “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right” statement is apocryphally attributed to P.T. Barnum.
Writing for law and other professional magazines, and law tabloids such as The Lawyers Weekly or the Law Times, is a not-expensive (at least to the writer) way of getting publicity and, perhaps, of educating the readership. I have no idea how effective it is on either score. However, the errors that I’ve seen in some of the articles I’ve read over the past few years, just in in my areas of expertise (and in my view the situation is getting worse), suggest to me that accuracy of the content is not foremost in the writer’s mind.
But, then, perhaps I’m too demanding in expecting all lawyers, or even most lawyers, to care (enough) about the accuracy of what they write for trade publications when they’re not getting paid for the piece, where it’s as likely as not that only another expert in the area will spot the error, and where they’re not giving advice upon which they can be sued. Of course, the publications care, but we can’t expect them to police the content of articles the way refereed journals do.
Addendum: June 12, 2010
This link will permit you to download a PDF file that contains my correspondence with The Lawyers Weekly about the flawed article I discuss in the comments, what I asked TLW to publish, and a longer piece providing more detail about the issues the published article got wrong, and related issues. DC