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Federal Judge Stops Blogging (Again). Should You?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 15, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf is giving up on blogging -- again. Judge Kopf's "Hercules and the Umpire" blog had gained notoriety over the years for what some see as a breach of judicial decorum -- telling Congress to go to hell, for example, or commenting on female lawyers' bodies. Many, however, became fans of Judge Kopf, praising his candor and accessible writing style.

This is at least the second time Judge Kopf has "hung up his keyboard" and it might not be the last. What can lawyers learn from this federal judge's love/hate relationship with the blogosphere?

Blogging Can Definitely Increase Your Profile

The first lesson: blogging works, if you're trying to make a name for yourself. Not many people spend much time thinking about a single federal judge in the District of Nebraska. Yet, through blogging, Judge Kopf was able to develop a reputation as a blunt, accessible jurist, not particularly concerned about offending others. That garnered Judge Kopf a notoriety at least somewhat comparable to more accomplished, or at least higher placed, judges, though more so for his penchant for making outrageous statements than his jurisprudence.

Some Kopf highlights include:

Don't Let Your Blog Interfere With Your Life, Job

If Judge Kopf was rewarded for his bombastic blogging with a bit of a higher profile, he also faced more than a bit of criticism. That post of women lawyers chests received expected outrage. Some wrote it off as hyperbole in service of an important "dress professionally" PSA. Others described it as harmful to the judiciary. When Judge Kopf went after Ted Cruz, critics claimed he may have violated prohibitions on federal judges publicly opposing political candidates.
Judge Kopf might not have minded the blowback from his blog, but his staff did. The first time Judge Kopf retired from writing following a cancer diagnosis, stating that he had written all he had wanted to write. His most recent pledge to stop blogging? That was caused when he found out the great majority of the courthouse staff found his blog "had become an embarrassment to our court."

Which brings us to the main lesson. Blogging can be a huge part of brand building and marketing for yourself as an individual, and for your firm. But if it begins to interfere with your life and job, either change your strategy, or just take a break.

We'll let you know when Judge Kopf picks up the keyboard again.

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