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How lawyers are a lot like comic book enthusiasts

The (Super)Power of Law

Some lawyers blog for client development. Some blog to share their expertise.

And some, like James Daily and Ryan Davidson, blog because they just have a great idea for a blog. Daily and Davidson write about the legal ramifications of story lines from comic books and superhero movies at Law and the Multiverse. And they also have an entertaining new book, The Law of Superheroes, published late last year by Gotham Books.

In a phone conversation, Daily said that publishers approached them about writing the book not long after they launched their blog in November 2010. The blog itself grew out of a dinnertime conversation between Daily, his wife (also a lawyer), and some friends, in which they discussed how privacy rights might be different on Superman’s home planet of Krypton. Shortly after Daily posted about his idea on MetaFilter, Davidson contacted him and offered to collaborate. The blog quickly gained a following, has been featured in the New York Times and has made the ABA Journal Blawg 100 for two years running. They write collaboratively, sharing drafts of posts and book chapters via e-mail. They have met in person exactly twice.

The book manages to strike a balance between entertaining and educational, and covers an impressive array of legal disciplines, with chapters on topics ranging from criminal procedure to insurance to intellectual property. Daily and Davidson employ a playfully dry tone, but write with the authority and passion of lifelong comic aficionados. Although they do document their analysis with citations to legal authority, they mostly avoid getting bogged down in technicalities. They are conscious that a significant percentage of their audience are not lawyers.

“We hope that attorneys read and enjoy our work, but we are writing for a general audience,” Davidson said.

Even so, they insist that there is a common thread between lawyers and hardcore comic enthusiasts. Both sets are analytical and detail-oriented. Put another way, the blog’s readership includes a lot of nerds, an audience that the authors proudly embrace.

“There is a strong nerdy streak among lawyers,” Daily said.

Both Daily and Davidson are young lawyers who balance their writing with full-time law jobs. Daily graduated from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 2008, and is currently an intellectual property attorney who works for Stanford University Hoover Institution’s Project on Commercializing Innovation. Davidson, a 2009 Notre Dame Law grad who recently launched a solo practice in Fort Wayne, Indiana, also has worked as a law firm associate and in-house for an insurance company. The typical blog post takes between one and five hours, depending on the subject matter and the amount of research required. Topics are frequently generated by their growing readership.

“We rely a lot on our readers to suggest things to write about,” Daily said.

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