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To the question, "If you need to be anonymous to be real, I am interested in the truth you have to tell but I wonder, why have you shaped your life so that you can't attribute your name to the truth you have to tell?"

My "reason": going to law school, becoming a professional in which I work on high profile cases (many are in fact covered by the media), in a field where every recorded word can and often is taken by my potential adversaries and used against me.

When I became a litigator, I made a series of life choices. One of them included the choice of accepting the responsibility to shut my mouth despite my natural pre-lawyer tendency to speak my opinion loudly and proudly wherever I went.

One day, I will become a judge, and whatever little freedom I have now will become even more diminished. If I wasn't willing to give up that freedom, it would have been irresponsible for me to make the career choices I've made to get me here.


UCL --

Your comments make sense to me, and I count you among the "real" anonymous bloggers. Your answer prompts the sad question, "why is it we think lawyers and judges can't have voices and opinions," such that your conscientiousness is necessary. But I don't mean, as you might have taken my post, to "disapprove" of your choice to blog anonymously in the meantime, before we (society, blah blah blah) acknowledge that people can be both professionals and individuals with opinions and thoughts that evolve.

I guess my post sounds really black and white. My thoughts about this are a lot more grey. A better post coming up, someday.


It would be nice of we could acknowledge that professionals - judges, lawyers, decisionmakers - do have personal opinions and experiences and reflect on many matters a series of different ways. It seems that we're taught repeatedly to hide this, to make sure no one knows what these thoughts are, because if we have these thoughts, ideas, or discussions for the sake of argument, then it can only mean that we are not qualified to make impartial decisions.

I say, it's these things precisely that make individuals qualified to make decisions. The only thing I would add is that unlike other professional fields, lawyers aren't taught to acknowledge and deal with their personal biases in order to proceed in the manner best suited to their client.

And with that, I half-anonymously submit this post.


Everyone is making very good points, very few of which I disagree with. (And thank you for the clarification, Scheherazade).

The bottom line for me is that there are circumstances in which a professional has a responsibility to maintain silence if their name can be associated with other people, in sensitive situations. That responsibility is owed to both the public and to oneself. The public is owed a duty by the people it entrusts (lawyers and judges) to litigate and decide matters in a manner that respects the privacy rights of clients, and the expectation of impartiality (perceived and actual) by judges.

The duty to oneself is to not sabotage one's employment or future career prospects. I dare say that Scheherazade's blog, in my opinion, could only ENHANCE those prospects, because I'm sure the vast majority of her readers genuinely enjoy her writing and come to admire her on-line personality. But I'm no Scheherazade: I occasionally express my opinion on deeply controversial topics that people feel strongly about, and although I try and avoid talking about co-workers and clients, I do sometimes talk about career issues personal to me that I wouldn't want advertised to all of my potential future employers.

David Giacalone

Maybe I'm naive, but it seems to me -- thirty years after starting law school -- that any one with a tiny bit of common sense, self-control and discretion, can write a weblog using his or her own identity without jeopardizing future employment potential. And, if there is a very controversial and important topic that one absolutely must opine upon, then do it, and be willing to accept the career consequences. There is far too much that can be done with a law degree to be worrying about keeping all your options open by keeping your mouth shut or your idenity hidden.

The very best lawyers of every generation have had strong personalities and opinions (especially those who get the high-profile cases). Personally, I would never want to hire a lawyer or appear before a judge who did not have strong feelings and the courage of his or her convictions while still a law student or neophyte lawyer. I would also never want to seek a job from which I would be rejected, if the employer or client or constituency knew my real opinion on a particular issue.


The basic premise here is that your name somehow qualitatively matters as a feature of your blog, something I just don't see. Why should the choice of one unique identifier (one's legal name) over another (one's chosen blog nick) make any difference? I've basically dropped the veil at my blog, but still don't feel the need to post my name there. What would it add?

Let's turn the question around here: why do you feel that it's more honest to put your name on something, if your goal is merely self-expression? If I like the way you write or think, or find your story otherwise compelling, why should I give a damn what you call yourself?

David Giacalone

Putting your name on something you have written is a declaration that "I take responsibility for my opinion, and the manner (tone, depth or research, style, etc.) in which I have presented it."

Anonymous "self-expression" seems to say "there's no self here" or "no responsible self here." ["Anonymous" is, of course, different from using a pseudonym or pen name, where the actual author can be identified behind the thin veil.)

And, yes, I do think it matters that there is a namable, responsible human being behind "Instapundit," or "How Appealing" -- and I'd have little interest in a weblog called The Anonymous Conspiracy, or Blank the Attorney.


I've read these comments with great interest because I have an anonymous blog which I'm in the process of expanding into a full website. I started out anonymously because I was uncertain about how my opinionated entries about the evils of the credit industry might be taken by those I have to negotiate with on behalf of clients, if they ever came across my site. I wonder what everyone here thinks about anonymity as it relates to a lawyer's responsibility to his clients. Is there anything in the ethical rules that would apply to this arena?

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