Saturday, May 29, 2010

Free New York City CLE On The Ethical Issues In The Practice Of Real Estate Law - June 15th, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 20108:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Registration & Continental Breakfast 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Program

City National Bank400 Park Avenue, 7th Floor (at 54th Street) NYC

Speaker:Marc Israel - Executive Vice President, Kensington VanguardNational Land Services

CLE Credits:
3 credit hours ethics live presentation and a complimentary 3 hours Credit CLE self-study course

23 SeatsCost: Free

Please RSVP by June 9 at (888) 664-4262 or via email to

Course Details:
This class is designed for practitioners of commercial and residential real estate and addresses a number of ethical issues and potential ethical pitfalls the attorney should be aware of in a real estate transaction. Particular attention is focused on potential conflicts in representing multiple parties in a real estate transaction, the requirement of obtaining a signed engagement letter,using non-attorneys such as paralegals and clerks to attend closings, handling escrow accounts, commingling escrow funds, and escrow account bookkeeping requirements. For more details, please visit CLE New York City

Program presented by Kensington Vanguard National Land ServicesCity National Bank is not the accredited provider of this CLE program. Attorneys receive CLE Ethics Credits* in the amount of 3 hours for the live presentation and a complimentary 3.0 hours Credit CLE self-study course** on Advanced 1031 Exchanges.* This continuing legal education program has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the Continuing Legal Education Board for a maximum of 3.0 credit hours, of which 3.0 credit hours can be applied toward the ethics requirement. The New York Institute for Continuing Education is an accredited CLE provider for this class. CLE credits are only applied to New York attorneys.** Administered by the National Academy of Continuing Legal Education. This organization is an accredited CLE provider for this class. CLE credits are only applied to New York and New Jersey attorneys.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Understanding Lawyer Blogging and the Fair Use Law for Web Content

There are a lot of blogs in use today - over 40+ million to be exact. As more attorneys continue to start blogs to support their practice, I receive countless questions on what they can write about and how their entries can utilize content and news from other sources.

The question of using content from another source ultimately deals with the "Fair Use" provisions of copyright law. Many of the larger new sources will publish their policies on their content usage but I found the following interview with Pat Aufderheide, the Executive Director for the Center of Social Media at American University to be a good guide when trying to better understand the concepts of this law...

"Fair use is part of copyright law, and it says you have the right to use other people's copyrighted material without licensing it, without paying for it, or even asking them permission under some circumstances," said Aufderheide. "The law itself is rather vague, so the question is , 'how do you interpret that law?'"
"Fair use is rooted in the first amendment," said Donaldson. "So if you're telling a story, and you need or want, and it's reasonable to use little pieces of other people's stuff to tell that story, that's protected as a first amendment right."

"If you keep in mind the first amendment origins of fair use, you'll have a good starting point," he added.

According to Aufderheide, one thing judges will ask is "did you use this for a different purpose than the original or are you merely taking something that somebody's actually selling, and getting it for free?" Basically - are you taking market value from them?

In the case of news and blogging, she says some of the traditional media sites have legitimate issues legally, but not always. She equates a great deal of the pushback from traditional media to hysteria over a dying business model. If you take a whole article from the Washington Post for example, and put it on your site, you're taking what belongs to them and taking market value from them. This is basically plagiarism anyway. On the other hand. However...

"Bloggers have a perfect right to quote in context, and to say 'the Washington Post said this' and 'here's how the Times covered it', and here's a link to the whole article if you want to look at that," says Aufderheide. "And they have a perfect right as well to quote pictures, images, and to link to video on a commercial site that is producing that stuff, once again within context. What is it that they're doing that is different from the original site? And then I think bloggers are doing just fine, and they're employing their fair use rights just like scholars do every day when they quote several previous scholars and write in their articles that these previous scholars didn't know what they were talking about when they said x, y, and z, and I'm right."

Donaldson added that "there’s no first amendment right to steal something and make money off it," and to just keep in mind those 1st amendment origins of fair use law.

In summary, I have commonly found that if you plan to utilize content from another source, make sure you are aware of their policies for this. If no policy is published, simply use or portions or quotations from the work, try to keep them in context, and provide a link back to the source. If they ask you to modify and/or pull down the content, comply immediately and without question. This of course is not legal advise by any means...just a good guideline to follow.


Facebook Upgrades Privacy Settings

Privacy is just a click away for Facebook users.

The social network overhauled its privacy settings to make it easier for people to guard their information amid a rising backlash.

The biggest change is a single option that allows people to choose who can see all their content -- everyone, friends of friends or just friends -- in one fell swoop. This master setting will apply to past information as well as future products from Facebook.

Before, people had to wade through a long list of settings for each Facebook feature.

Facebook also cut back on the amount of "basic information" that must be visible to everyone.

For instance, people can now hide their friends list and their interests from the public. Finally, the site is giving users the ability to block all applications, such as games.

Mark Zuckerberg, the company's co-founder and CEO, appeared contrite yesterday as Facebook announced the changes. "A lot of people are upset with us," Zuckerberg admitted.

Facebook is feeling the heat from users, lawmakers and privacy advocates after changing its privacy policy to make more information about its users public by default. The site also shared information with some of its partners, further upsetting users.

The privacy issue has already landed Facebook in hot water with lawmakers.

In April, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit Facebook from sharing users' information without permission.
Learn more about Facebook Page SEO


Monday, May 24, 2010

Setting Proper Expectations For Keyword Performance On Websites

This is a great article on the importance of setting the proper expectations when it comes to targeted search performance relative to competition. One of the key strategies for any successful online marketing process is to know your level of competition, knowing the assets you have to work with, setting the proper goals and expectations for the clients based on their progress and propagation on the web and repositioning when necessary...

Concentrating solely on one or a few highly competitive keywords at the beginning of any SEO campaign can lead to a loss in profitability, as well as less than ideal expectations for a client or your management team.

Many client engagements begin with one goal expressed by the client: to rank at the top of the first page in search engines for their industry's top term, and fast. While this is often quickly countered with the realization that honest SEO takes time and should be a concentration across several terms, it still seems to fall on deaf ears in many cases. We live in a world of dreamers, and "fast" is too often becoming "not fast enough."

Any new SEO campaign should actually begin with a focus further down the tail of keyword terms. Effort and thought toward the broad keyword goal should be just that, a goal.

These terms should be identified in initial keyword research as the pinnacle of the information architecture. Don't get me wrong, you'll optimize the home page, top-level website pages, and internal link text back to these pages, etc. with these terms, but you must not obsess early in an SEO campaign about why you aren't ranking highly for these competitive terms.

Your obsession should lie in compartmentalizing site sections and the page themes that expand upon the broad keyword theme. This allows you to take advantage of the low hanging fruit (i.e., all of the less competitive terms that can begin to drive traffic soon while you work at building up the overall site theme that will help you to compete for the top terms you or your clients so desire). This "branches-in" approach requires you to enable sound SEO practices further into internal pages, such as your many product or service pages.

Many clients have become greedy and obsessed over single term performance in the past. While nerves are frazzled over one term, it's hard to see the actual progress that's taking place.

Instead of fretting over why you aren't getting the rankings or referrals for x, perform a broad match filtered search in analytics for x plus other words. I've experienced this many times where exact match referrals were non-desirable but there were a plethora of terms, including the broad term, in the keyword referral. In addition, these longer tail terms are often more qualified, leading to higher conversions.

Structuring a site to be SEO-friendly, as well as reinforcing a keyword theme in your content strategy that greatly expands the broad term desired, will likely result in great rankings for competitive terms. The funny thing is, often when you look at the big picture all the long tail keyword traffic you helped drive to the site will collectively drive much more traffic to the site and convert better than the competitive broad term that became an obsession.

From a cost-benefit standpoint, you can start getting rankings/traffic/conversions soon from the expanded term focus rather than battling solely towards one or a few terms which may take a year or more to see success.

Contact us today to learn more about keyword SEO, facebook seo and law firm website design new york city

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is Your Website Worth $20 Million Dollars?

According to the NY Post article below, somebody seems to think some websites are worth a lot of money. The interesting aspect of this is how building a personal brand (and website) can be a VERY lucrative endeavor for some. This also illustrates the importance of registering your brand and domain names NOW before somebody else does the same...

In gossip circles, it seems that the more you're hated, the more you're worth.

At least that's the case for controversial blogger Perez Hilton, who reportedly is being offered $20 million for his catty, gay-outing Web site

The 32-year-old gossipmonger, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, got the offer earlier this month from a pair of bloggers and Avid Life Media, which owns Web sites such as and the cheaters' dating service site

He would be paid $18 million up front and another $2 million to be put into escrow, according to, which first reported the Avid-led team's interest.

There was no word on whether Hilton has responded to the offer.

If a deal happens, it would suggest that despite being slapped with multiple lawsuits over claims of hijacked celebrity photos and flat-out wrong exclusives, such as the death of Cuban President Fidel Castro, Hilton may have scored his biggest scoop yet -- other people's money.

According to the May 14 offer letter, the buyer would keep going, though the bloggers, Zack Taylor and Nik Richie, would take over managing the site.

While there might be some doubt about the bloggers' ability to cough up that kind of dough for, Avid has proven itself to have moderately deep pockets. The company paid $20 million for

Meanwhile, Taylor operates his own gossip site,, while Richie runs a rival site,


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Business Development Aspect of Inbound Link Building

Ever since Google's advent back in 1998, link building has been an important part of the search landscape. Links remain critical to success today.

This year's SEOmoz survey of 72 top SEO Consultants concluded that links still represented about 67 percent of what drives rankings:

Google vs. Spam

As soon as Google's algorithm was understood, spammers were quick to get involved with link building. The buying and selling of links became popular. So did massive swapping of links among sites. At one point in time it seemed that half the sites on the web were replicating the Yahoo directory on their own sites to support their massive link swapping programs.

The problem with both of these methods was that they had a tendency to break the Google algorithm. This algorithm was based on links being academic citations. The site that garnered the most citations was probably the best site, not the one that bought or swapped for the most links.

As a result, Google began to actively fight link spam, making steady progress against the spammers. Today, various spammy techniques for obtaining links are getting harder to come by, and require more effort to execute. It's often easier to get clean links (citations) than to get them by cheating. One result is that today's link building has become a cross between old-fashioned Public Relations and business development.

Link Building & Public Relations

Some of the PR-like ways of building links include:

- Submitting articles to social news sites like Digg, Reddit, and Propeller.
- Participating in communities, such as those found on Facebook or Twitter, to build a large following to which you can broadcast messages.
- Implementing a news feed and submitting it to Google News.
- Direct pursuit of relationships with media.

These all seem like PR activities to me. The first three are like PR because they involve an indirect approach, and you don't know where you're going to get the links from.

The last one, direct media outreach, has been a big part of PR all along. This has evolved as the definition of media now includes bloggers, but it's still PR.

Business Development & Link Building

In contrast, here are some of the business development-like ways of doing link building.

- Reaching out directly to publishers to request links.
- Syndicating content or tools to third-party web sites in return for links.
- Using Facebook or Twitter to directly contact potential linkers as a substitute for e-mail (which might be spam filtered).

Because these focus on building business relationships, they are like business development. The contact is direct, and you're likely to know where a resulting link will be placed. The probability of getting such a link is enhanced by the level of trust in the relationship.

Future of Web Marketing & Link Building

Over time, web marketing should increasingly look like old school marketing. SEO, PPC, and social media will simply be different channels to use in the overall marketing process. Smart businesses will get an advantage based on what they do with the opportunities that each of these present, but, ultimately, web marketing through these channels will look more like marketing used to 20 years ago.

Contact Us today to learn more about how law firm SEO can help your law firm generate new clients and cases online.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Everyone Should Setup an RSS Reader Today

How would you like to get virtually all of the news and information you consume in one location with no delays, no costs, and no sifting through news you don’t want to read? Sound too good to be true? With RSS, it is now a reality...

Why Everyone Should Setup an RSS Reader

One of the greatest changes with the advent of the internet is the virtual global reach now provided for news and information. Historically, people would wait for daily newspapers and magazines to arrive before they could consume them. This often required people to have to buy everything provided in each publication in order to access and read what they wanted.

With the advent of the internet, readers where now required to visit each website to take in their news and information. Although this new way to consume information was more beneficial, it still did not address the multiple sourcing and sifting through of information needed to effectively get to ALL of your targeted information. But the news world has now dramatically changed once again and this time it is through the simple use of RSS (Real Simple Syndication).

What is RSS (Real Simple Syndication)

RSS is nothing more than a real simple way to receive targeted information in one place from many different sources. These sources can be newspapers, Facebook, blogs, and websites, almost anything you want to track and read on a daily basis. Before RSS, you might need to visit multiple websites, blogs and resources to get your news from all of these places - which can be time consuming and tedious. RSS now allows you to take information from all of these sources and have them provided to you in one place called an RSS reader (or aggregator).

The easiest way to create a new RSS reader is to simply create a Google account that provides you with an easy to use Google “reader” as part of their free suite of account services. To start, go to and click on the “create an account” link on the upper right-hand side of the screen. Once created, click on the Settings > Google Account Settings link in the same area of the screen to access your accounts page where your new “reader” resides.

Now that you have a RSS reader ready to go, simply go to all the sites and blogs you regularly follow and look for the RSS feeds that each provides. Most reputable sites and blogs now provide these feeds and many news papers and news sites will even allow you to subscribe to specific feeds that only relate to certain types / areas / topics of news. For example, say you only go to one site for sports, another for local news, and a third for opinions. Most sites will now allow you to subscribe and receive targeted news from these specific news items while ignoring everything else.

When you find the specific RSS feeds you want, simply click on them to add them to your reader. Most will allow you to subscribe using your Google reader (see picture below) – which in turn will open the feed in your reader and allow you to save the subscription feed in there. Once it is saved, you will be able to quickly see the most recent news for each feed on one page with clickable links to read more.

RSS Feeds Can Come From Anywhere

One of the really neat aspects of RSS feeds are how many difference places these feeds can potentially come from. Beyond a traditional news site, you might also find yourself reading blogs (30% of Americans now do), getting Google news alerts to keep up on your company and/or competition, participating in Linked-In Answers, etc. – all of which can provide a targeted information feed directly to your RSS reader.

RSS Readers Are The New Morning Newspapers

The best way to get the full use of your new RSS reader is to read it first thing in the morning - even before you read your regular newspaper. By having all of your news in one convenient location, you will find it much more effective to quickly locate what information you then want to consume. Over time, your RSS reader will allow you to replace all of your traditional news vehicles and allow you to realize that beyond the morning coffee, nothing starts the day better than you and your RSS morning news.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Disecting Google's MayDay Release Changes

In May of 201o, Google providing a significant change to their ranking agorithm along with a new search interface we discussed here. As a result of this "MayDay" release, a number of websites have reported changes in their page ranking, traffic patterns, etc.

It is important to note that Google makes 96% of their revenues from paid advertising which DIRECTLY compete for clicks with the organic search results. Because of this, it is little surprise that Google continues to hold their cards close to their chest when discussing their secret algorithm stew...

Early May we reported on a possible Google Update coined the Google MayDay update. Now, I know Google wanted examples of sites claiming they were hit, so here you go, SEOmoz said they were impacted by MayDay.

What is MayDay, well - a lot of sites are claiming they lost rankings in Google for their long tail keywords, which resulted in a drop of traffic of about 10 - 20% or more. Now, with the launch of new Google design some are blaming that for a Google referrer drop but some noticed it before the redesign. This has created a good deel of stir in the search engine optimization world

A new WebmasterWorldthread started on the topic, the second one on this topic. We have some smart SEOs and webmasters formulating ideas and theories, some of you who may disagree with them, but I will document them here anyway.

Tedster believes that what we are witnessing over at Google now may be a "automated, and self-improving algorithm" deployed by Google. Possibly part of how Google indexes content with "un-launched" Google Caffeine update.

There is a lot going on with Google and we may need to approach the Google SERPs from an entirely different model than the "data set" concept that we've been using in recent times. I'm currently thinking of something more along the lines of waveforms and continuous statistical testing... with near-real-time adjustments and experimentation in a kind of feedback loop. Something like automated algorithm evolution.

Rand from SEOmoz also formulated some theories, which he posted in his video.

I really think Google needs to do a blog post about what is going on or not going on soon. Between Caffeine, the new design and this - there is just so much confusion out there. Today's Google should not be like this, their communication has been outstanding but when it comes to this topic - it is like they are hiding something.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

How To Create A Successful Law Firm Blog In 12 Weeks

Note: Since many law firms that I work with are starting new blogs, this is a great article to help understand the importance of how to do it successfully...which many do not.

One of the primary reasons most blogs are abandoned is that it takes time to build an audience. It’s demotivating to spend hour upon hour crafting sparkling prose that reveals your most profound industry insights and most valuable guidance, only to see that after weeks of effort, your blog is attracting only a handful of readers per day. How can you avoid that fate and build an audience more quickly?

It can be done.

Traffic to a new blog can be ramped up quickly using the following 12 techniques.

1. Build links to your blog from every possible source. Link to the new blog from your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, other social networking and social bookmarking profiles, comments you leave on other blogs—anywhere you can create a link. Add your blog name and link to company email signatures and include it in your corporate newsletter or marketing emails as well.

2. Publicize the blog through offline channels. Include the URL on business cards, brochures, Google Local Listings, press releases, your corporate PowerPoint template, trade show booth signage, etc.

3. Use Twitter. Twitter is the fourth-highest source of traffic to Webbiquity, just behind Google. Of course it helps to have a sizable Twitter following, but the quality of your followers is much more important than the quantity. A few influential followers (with significant followings of their own) who will retweet your blog post links are far more valuable than a boatload of spammy followers who probably never visit your blog in the first place. Blogging and Twittering work together synergystically; writing quality SEO blog content, then tweeting about it, can help increase both your relevant Twitter following and blog readership.

4. SEO the blog. Write compelling, relevant (i.e., don’t try to be too clever) headlines. Include post tags and properly categorize each post. Use keyword-rich SEO post URLS, not meaningless page names like “id=98″. In WordPress, you can set this in Settings…Permalinks. Finally, include relevant page titles, a compelling description, and keywords with each post. For WordPress blogs, two of the best SEO plugins are All In One SEO Pack and Platinum SEO.

5. Promote your blog posts to your relevant LinkedIn groups. If you haven’t already done so, find and join LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry, groups that key influencers, potential business partners, and most importantly your sales prospects are likely to be members of. Link to your posts as either discussion items (for posts that ask questions, solicit reader feedback, or address controversial industry issues) or news items (for posts that are more straight reporting of research or how-to type content.)

6. Create “linkable” content. Inbound Links can generate direct visits and they are critical for Law Firm SEO. The best way to obtain links is to attract them naturally, by writing link-worthy content. A variety of content can qualify, including posts that report new information, explain how to solve a problem, take a controversial stand, or make people laugh. A SWOT analysis is one helpful tool to develop killer topics for blog posts.

7. Write guest posts for popular blogs. A great way to reach a new audience, spread your company’s fame and promote your own blog is to write an attention-getting piece for an established industry blog. It helps (greatly) if you already have a relationship with the blogger, but even if you don’t, most bloggers are far more open to offers of a guest post than they are to PR pitches. Politely contact the blog owner, offer to write a guest post on a pertinent topic for the blog, and ask what the requirements are. When using guest-posting as a strategy, it’s best to start with relatively small blogs and work your way up the food chain. An offer to guest post will have far more credibility if you can point to other posts you’ve already written. If you’ve never had a guest post published, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll get your writing to appear on an A-list blog like TechCrunch or Mashable, but—as evidenced by the fact that both do publish guest posts—it is possible to work one’s way up to that level.

8. Use social bookmarking. Social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx and Propeller can help drive traffic and provide links, though some sites including the first three in this list use the insidious nofollow tag, which means the links won’t help with SEO. It’s perfectly acceptable to link to your own content, as long as you don’t promote your own stuff exclusively. And if someone else bookmarks your content—vote it up!

9. Add your blog and feed links to blog directories and RSS syndication sites. These links can help drive direct traffic, increase your blog’s subscribers, and improve the position of your blog in search. Helpful, though slightly out-of-date lists of blog directories and RSS sites can be found on the TopRank blog and Robin Good’s site.

10. Link to other bloggers. The golden rule as applied to blogging would be: link unto others as you would have them link unto you. Almost every blogger appreciates links (it’s high praise that you find their content worth linking to) and many will return the favor in some way; by linking back to you, Tweeting up your blog post, social bookmarking it, etc. Linking to other blogs accomplishes at least three things: it’s social (and therefore may lead to a link back), it’s helpful to your readers (by pointing them to more information on a specific topic), and it demonstrates confidence.

11. Submit your blog to AllTop. This is very popular blog directory. It won’t necessarily drive a lot of direct traffic, but it helps, and you never know—Guy Kawasaki may end up retweeting one of your posts and giving you a huge spike in visits.

12. Add alt tags to images and use SEO-friendly file names. Google’s image search can drive a surprising amount of traffic. To optimize the images in your posts, use appropriate alt tags and descriptive file names (e.g., a photo of a polar bear should be named something like polar-bear.jpg, not image01243.jpg). Proper alt image tags also help with SEO of the post itself.

The first requirement of a successful blog launch is to create quality content and publish on a regular basis; weekly at a minimum, more frequently if possible. The second requirement is patience—being willing to stick with it even if your traffic doesn’t skyrocket immediately. There’s no way around that first requirement, but you’ll need less of the second if you utilize all of the avenues above to help your blog quickly build a respectable following.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Google Tags Makes Its Debut

In 2007, Google first introduced Google Local (or maps) listings to website search results. Today, these results on average display on 1 out of 9 page 1 search results. Google has recently added “tagging” to its local (places or maps) listings. These “tags” are simply highlighted markers added to Google local listings to help them better stand out and promote things such as: websites, coupons, promotions, etc.

Google Tags are currently offered as a limited release in: Atlanta, Austin, Boulder Chicago, Houston, Mountain View CA, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington DC. Once these become available in New York, Google will notify me and I will be in turn notifying my customers. You can become a fan of our Law Firm SEO Facebook page to receive the same notification at:

How Google Tags Works:

For a flat $25 monthly fee, you can add these markers to your current Google local listings and it is important to note that these markers WILL NOT improve your Google local listings – only Google Local optimization can accomplish this.

As you can see from the following screen shots, these markers to DO stand out and as we have seen through recent Google local heat map analysis, it is not as important to be displayed #1 in your Google local listings as it is to simply show up. These markers make you show up better and more importantly can include a call to action.

So are these Google Tags worth the $25/mo. for attorneys? It depends really on the level competition and frequency of search. If you currently display in Google local for the more ubiquitous search terms such as: divorce attorney, construction accident attorney, personal injury attorney, criminal defense attorney, immigration attorney, etc. then this may be a very small price to pay to make you stand out even further.

To learn more about Google Tags, you can visit Google at: to learn more and get started. If you need further help in optimizing your Google maps / local listings, contact a law firm SEO consultant to help you get started.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SEO Update: Are Facebook Connections The New Links?

So, earlier in the week, we talked about how absorbed the web is going to get by Facebook. Based on Facebook's announcements at F8 today, that is most certainly the goal of the company, and given the tremendous adoption of Facebook by users in general, and by important partners with content, get ready to get more absorbed.

There were three major announcements made during the keynote. These were:

1. The Open Graph

2. Social Plug-ins

3. Graph API

Essentially, Facebook thinks connections are going to become the new links. This will theoretically happen through what they're calling the Open Graph. Zuckerberg explains this:

Facebook has focused mostly on mapping out the part of the graph around people and their relationships.

At the same time, other sites and services have been mapping out other parts of the graph so you can get relevant information about different types of things. For example, Yelp maps out the best local businesses and Pandora maps out which songs are related to each other.

All of these connections are important parts of the social graph, but until now it hasn't been possible to easily share the connections you make on sites like Yelp or Pandora with your friends on Facebook. And you haven't been able to bring your friends from Facebook to share experiences on these sites or personalize them to you.

The announcement of the social plug-ins will play a significant role in making the connections involved in this Open Graph. These include a "like" button for the web, which the company as already deemed the most important of the plug-ins. When you stick a like button on your site, that connection will be integrated with Facebook through the Graph API. The activity will go the news feed, but it will also go to other relevant places in your Facebook profile.

Taylor shared examples from partners IMDB, Pandora, and ESPN. If you "like" a band on Pandora, that will go to the appropriate bands-you-like section on Facebook. On IMDB, every movie page will have a like button, so if you "like" a movie, it will be reflected in your movies section in your Facebook profile. It goes both ways though. You're not just sending stuff back to Facebook. For example, there will be "like" buttons associated with athletes on their profile pages on If you "like" one of these athletes, you can get updates about them from ESPN, via Facebook. Expect a lot of interesting two-way things to happen with the Graph API, as more and more developers are able to harness its power.

Other plug-ins include boxes for activity feeds and recommendations you can stick on your site. You can check out Facebook's social plug-ins here.

Basically, the gist of the entire thing is that Facebook is taking over the web, and sites will be afraid not to take part. Facebook is injecting itself into every part of the web possible. As far as I can tell, this Open Graph is essentially a web itself. While it may not become THE web, it may increasingly become the one that matters.

Are we headed toward a point that if you are not somehow connected to Facebook you are not connected to the world at large? By the way, this is not going to do anything to slow Facebook's growth down.

Related Facebook articles:

Facebook Search Engine Growth

Divorce Lawyers Using Facebook

Facebook & Divorce - Be Careful What You Say

Contact Us today to learn more about law firm search engine marketing

Source: webpronews

Friday, May 7, 2010

Google Releases Their Newest Search Engine Results Pages

Update 5: Now Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience has officially announced the new design, and included the following video:

Mayer says, "We’ve added contextually relevant, left-hand navigation to the page. This new side panel highlights the most relevant search tools and refinements for your query. Over the past three years, we've launched Universal Search, the Search Options panel and Google Squared, and it’s those three technologies that power the left-hand panel."

Update 4: According to Brad Stone with the New York Times Bits Blog, Google is rolling out the new SERP design gradually right now (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Update 3: More people are reportedly seeing the new design today, assuming this isn't April Fools material.

Update 2: One of my co-workers is seeing the new SERPs:

Update: Danny Sullivan reports that "slight variations" of this design are "live in the wild," and "still being shown to a randomly selected group of people," and that Google doesn't have an expected launch date for a complete roll-out.

Original Article (11/19): Google is testing a new user interface for its search options feature. If you are unfamiliar with the search options feature, it is the link on your search results page that says "show options" and brings up a menu on the left-hand side of the screen providing a number of ways to filter your results.

According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, a "small number" of Google users will see the new interface starting today. The aim of the new interface is to provide users with a cleaner display. Sullivan says that if the testing goes well, Google may roll it out after the New Year. He quotes Google's Marissa Mayer as saying, "We're basically looking at a new look and feel for Google. It's an overall cleaning up of the search engine results page."

Images of this new look and feel look strangely familiar - similar to that of a certain "decision engine." Take a look:

Of course, the Google's search options and Bing have been compared in the past (and other search engines utilize a similar design too for that matter), in terms of the general layout. Their functionalities differ on various levels. It's important to note that this will just be how the search results pages will look, without having to click the search options link to get to it. There has been discussion in the past about how much users actually use Google's search options, simply because the feature is easy to overlook. Such a change would put the options right in your face.

Besides being visually different, the options themselves are different in some areas. For example, a "see also" section has been added, which suggests related queries. There is also a section called "show search tools," which now contains things like the Wonder Wheel, Timeline View, and "more shopping sites."

Google may start messing around with the top navigation on search results pages next year, but the company has acknowledged that it works well right now. It will be interesting to see the change in use of this top navigation if the left-hand options go mainstream.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Optimizing Video Content On YouTube For Best Results

YouTube still claims to be the second largest search engine in the world. Just think about that for a minute. If you produce online video and it's not on YouTube, you're probably missing out on a great deal of potential viewers. If you're not producing video at all, you're missing out a lot of searches.

However, just uploading content to YouTube is not going to be enough. Like with any other form of search engine, content needs to be optimized to be found. At SXSW in Austin back in March, WebProNews spoke with Margaret Gould Stewart, who leads YouTube's user experience team. She talked about some reasons a lot of content producers are missing out on some tremendous opportunities when they use the world's most popular online video site.

"When you're building a sustained audience, you have to continually create great content that connects with your audience," says Stewart. "I think the secondary part is understanding your audience - understanding who you want to reach, and proactively cultivating a relationship with the people in your audience. And on YouTube that means not just creating great content and uploading it to the site, but actively building your subscriber base, so that you can be in direct and regular interaction and conversation with those people."

"We find that video producers who are really active in the conversation, whether it's comments or uploading 'how this video was made'- you know, kind of the behind-the-scenes - people are really fascinated by that stuff, and we see some our most successful partners really having that, again, kind of ongoing conversation - not an arm's length relationship to the audience, but very engaged," she adds.

"We sometimes see content producers not investing enough time in attaching great meta data to their content, because like I said, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and we all know that for Google, it's important to think seriously about search engine optimization, because you can have the great content, and ideally the cream will float to the top, but there's definitely things you can do to help yourself along, right?"

"Good clear, direct titling of your content, putting the right kinds of tags...because the fact is initially when content goes viral, people may discover it through search engines, or embed it in blogs, but then it reaches that really exciting word-of-mouth status, where I just may mention it to you person-to-person, and then what most people do is just go to and they search for it," she continues. "So if you're not indexed well in the search engine because you haven't attached great meta data to your content, you're going to miss out on that audience."

"The other thing that is really important is enabling embedding," notes Stewart. "It's probably the number one most important thing, because what we see in videos that become very popular, very quickly and take on that kind of life of its own, a lot of that initial traffic in the first 48 hours happens actually off-site."

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Five Most Important Estate Planning Documents

It may be the subject matter – death, incapacity and taxes – that causes us to avoid estate planning. However, the fact is that, no matter what your age or how much wealth you’ve accumulated, you need an estate plan to protect yourself, your loved ones and your assets – both now while you’re still active as well as after your death. Having an effective estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for your family.

To start the planning process, you should work with an experienced firm that will put your interests first. The first step in the planning process is to create a comprehensive net worth statement showing all of your assets, including taxable accounts, tax-deferred accounts (IRAs, annuities, retirement plans) and life insurance investments. Your Financial Advisor can help you create a personal net worth statement containing the following important information:

1. Will: A will provides instructions for distributing your assets to your family and other beneficiaries upon your death. Your estate planning attorney can customize its provisions to meet your needs. You appoint a personal representative (also known as an “executor”) to distribute your assets. If you have minor children, you can designate a guardian for them. To be effective, a will must be filed in probate court. Probate is a judicial process for managing your assets if you become incapacitated, and for transferring your assets in an orderly fashion when you die. The court oversees payment of liabilities and the attorney. Because a will does not take effect until you die, it cannot provide for management of you assets if you become incapacitated. Other estate planning documents, discussed below, become effective if you should become incapacitated.

2. Durable power of attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document in which you name another person to act on you behalf. This person is called your agent or attorney-in-fact. You can give your appointed agent broad or limited management powers. You should choose this person carefully, because he or she will generally be able to sell, invest and spend your assets.

A traditional power of attorney terminates upon your disability or death. However, a durable power of attorney will continue during incapacity to provide a financial management safety net. A durable power of attorney terminates upon your death.

3. Health care power of attorney: A durable power of attorney for health care authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. This document and a living will can be invaluable for avoiding family conflicts and possible court intervention if you should become unable to make your own health care decisions.

4. Living will: A living will expresses your intentions regarding the use of life-sustaining measures in the event of a terminal illness. It expresses what you want but does not give anyone the authority to speak for you.

5. Revocable living trust. There are many different types of trusts with different purposes, each accomplishing a variety of goals. A revocable living trust is one type of trust often used in an estate plan. By transferring assets into a revocable trust, you can provide for continued management of your financial affairs during your lifetime (when you’re incapacitated, for example), at your death, and even for generations to come. Your revocable living trust lets trust assets avoid probate and reduces the chance that personal information will become part of public records.

Every revocable trust has three important components. The grantor (or settlor) generally you – creates the trust and transfers assets to it. The beneficiary – often you or a member of your family – receives the income and/or principal according to your trust’s terms. The third component, a trustee – who could be you, a family member or a corporate trustee – manages the trust assets.

You can change a revocable trust’s provisions at any time during your life. If you act as your own trustee, you continued to manage you investments and financial affairs. In this case, your account might be titled “(Your Name), Trustee of the (Your Name) Revocable Living Trust Dated (Date).” Because this legal entity exists beyond your death, property titled in the trust does not need to pass through probate.

Once you have executed the appropriate documents for your planning needs, you should review them periodically to ensure they remain up-to-date given any significant changes (births, deaths, divorces, etc.) in your situation. While having these documents is important, there’s more to the estate planning process. For example, you may need to deal with possible estate-tax issues, as well as coordinate primary and contingent beneficiary designations on your IRA, employers sponsored retirement plan [such as a 401 (k) or 403 (b) plan], annuity contracts and life insurance policies with your estate plan.

The bottom line here is that proper planning is a key ingredient to being prepared. While estate planning may not be the most enjoyable exercise, it is a necessary one nonetheless.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Knew Bankruptcy Paid Lawyers, Accountants & Experts So Well?

More than $263,000 for photocopies in four months. Over $2,100 in limousine rides by one partner in one month. And $48 just to leave a message. Explanations for these charges? Priceless.

The lawyers, accountants and restructuring experts overseeing the remains of Lehman Brothers have already racked up more than $730 million in fees and expenses, with no end in sight, Nelson D. Schwartz and Julie Creswell report in The New York Times. Anyone wondering why total fees doled out in the Lehman bankruptcy alone could easily touch the $1 billion mark merely has to look at the bills buried among the blizzard of court documents filed in the case.

They’re a Baedeker to the continuing bankruptcy bonanza, a world where the meter is always running — sometimes literally: in the months after Lehman’s collapse in September 2008, the New York law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges paid one car-service company alone more than $500 a day as limo drivers cooled their heels waiting for meetings to break (and this in a city overflowing with taxis).

While most of corporate America may be just emerging from the Great Recession, bankruptcy specialists have spent the last two years enjoying an unprecedented boom. Ten of the 20 largest corporate bankruptcies in recent decades have occurred over the last three years, according to, with Lehman snaring honors as the biggest corporate belly-flop in American history.

These megacases — Lehman, General Motors, Chrysler and Washington Mutual, to name a few — are orders of magnitude larger than most bankruptcies in the past, and their size and complexity have created a feeding frenzy of sorts for those asked to sort them out. To date, Weil, the lead law firm representing Lehman, has billed the Lehman estate for more than $164 million.

Analysts, lawyers and others involved in the larger bankruptcy boom say that some fees are legitimate — and that others are, at a minimum, highly questionable.

“There’s clearly pressure on people to create more revenue,” says Robert White, a former bankruptcy partner at O’Melveny & Myers who retired in 2006 after practicing for 35 years. At one deposition he attended last year, each law firm sent two or three lawyers when one would have sufficed. “They were just sitting there on their BlackBerrys and talking to other people,” he said.

With first- and second-year associates charging more than $500 an hour in some of these bankruptcy cases, according to court records, that can amount to some pretty expensive downtime. At several firms, including Weil and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, partners now charge $1,000 an hour or more for their bankruptcy services.

But billable hours explain only part of the run-up in costs. In the seven months after the bankruptcy filing of G.M., which taxpayer dollars helped keep afloat, various law firms and other advisers received nearly $90 million. Lawyers from Weil, which has accounted for nearly $16 million of fees in that case, put in for $364.14 in dry cleaning as well as more than a week at the Sherry-Netherland hotel in Manhattan last summer, where one lawyer’s room cost $685 a night.

In court documents, the firm responded that it could be tough to find hotel rooms in New York City for $400 or less and that dry-cleaning or laundry bills were appropriate for out-of-town lawyers required to stay in New York for 9 or 10 days.

Think the lawyers are expensive? Meet the consultants. Alvarez & Marsal, a turnaround firm that is essentially running what remains of Lehman, has billed more than $262.1 million.

No charges have been too big, or too small. The Huron Consulting Group, a management consultancy involved in Lehman, charged $2.54 for “gum in airport.” In the G.M. case, Brownfield Partners has billed $230,209.55, including an $18 fitness-club charge at a hotel.

A Brownfield partner said an employee didn’t realize that there was a separate charge to use the fitness club and didn’t notice it on the hotel bill. The firm agreed to remove the charge after the examiner brought it to the firm’s attention.

Analysts say that nickel-and-diming might be worth a laugh or two — if some of the larger fees weren’t snowballing so quickly as well. They say these bounteous fees reduce the money left for creditors in the bankruptcy cases. In the Lehman case, some unsecured creditors, including bondholders, banks and vendors, are likely to get just 14.7 cents on the dollar for their claims, according to Lehman’s proposed reorganization plan. Nor will they get their money quickly — some experts say they believe that the Lehman case could drag on for three to five more years.

Lawyers and restructuring pros who are picking up the pieces of companies swamped by the bankruptcy wave say that their fees are well deserved and that their services help make the bankruptcy process more efficient. And they say the pay is more than made up for by a tidier resolution of a financial debacle — or, as in G.M.’s case, the revivification of a wounded company.

“The legal skill we used to sell Lehman’s North American capital markets business to Barclays saved 10,000 jobs and preserved the business itself, capturing value that otherwise would have been lost,” said Harvey Miller, 77, a Weil partner who is considered the dean of the bankruptcy bar.

Many people in the industry agree that Lehman, in particular, is a huge case that tests even the most experienced lawyers. “Lehman is a sufficiently complicated company that it would be safe to assume that if it weren’t for equally sophisticated professionals running the Chapter 11 case, that the creditors would essentially receive nothing,” says Stephen J. Lubben, a professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law. “In those situations, it makes sense for sophisticated professionals to handle the case.”

Others, however, have a distinctly different perception about the fees that advisers are harvesting in bankruptcies.

“It violates any sense of proportion,” says Kenneth Feinberg, the Washington lawyer who serves as the “pay czar” for banks bailed out by the government and whom the court appointed last June to monitor fees associated with the Lehman bankruptcy. The court asked him to participate after concerns were raised in the news media about the soaring fees in the Lehman case.

“Unemployment is over 9 percent, and to be paying first-year associates $500 an hour angers the public,” he observes. “People read about all of this and say that lawyers and the legal system are one more example of Wall Street out of control.”

Despite the rise in bankruptcy fees over the years, there was little or no public criticism or pushback until recently. Lawyers were reluctant to challenge their peers, fearing retaliation. Analysts say watchdogs from the United States Trustee’s office, a part of the Justice Department that oversees bankruptcy cases and monitors billing practices and possible conflicts, were overworked and outgunned. Even as its workload has increased, the Trustee’s office has seen its staffing fall to 1,323 in 2010 from 1,468 in 2007.

Meanwhile, judges, many of whom used to work at the firms now benefiting from the bankruptcy boom, were also reluctant to challenge the status quo. All of this, analysts say, has fed a legal culture with few restraints on billing for bankruptcies.

“I don’t think professionals cheat the client, but in a number of ways they can talk themselves into doing things that they wouldn’t do for clients outside of bankruptcy,” says Nancy B. Rapoport, a former bankruptcy lawyer at Morrison & Foerster who teaches law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “If you send eight people to a hearing because there is an outside chance they might have to speak at that hearing and you try that outside of bankruptcy the client will go ballistic.”

Now, however, a handful of fee examiners in several high-profile bankruptcies are taking a harder line on such charges, setting the stage for a confrontation with lawyers and consultants opposed to the moves. Both Mr. Feinberg and the examiner in the G.M. case, Brady C. Williamson, for instance, have suggested reductions in hourly fees charged by some firms.

That’s the kind of precedent that sets some of the bankruptcy industry leaders’ teeth on edge. “Mr. Feinberg doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” says Mr. Miller. “We don’t generally give discounts. Just because bankruptcy has been the hot legal area for the last 19 months doesn’t demand you cut fees.”

If Mr. Feinberg and others succeed in reining in certain fees and expenses, the outcome could reverberate through the bankruptcy universe.

“This is a very important test case; it’s bigger than just Lehman,” observes Mr. Feinberg. “The culture of bankruptcy is unique.”

So what, asks Bryan Marsal, co-founder of the restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal. “I don’t care whether Feinberg or Moses comes into this case, you’re not going to get me to apologize,” he says. “If you look at this case in the context of the billions of dollars that has been recovered and the billions of dollars in claims that have been managed, just because the case was big doesn’t mean it was operated inefficiently.”

On the evening of Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, Mr. Marsal was sitting in his study in Westchester County, N.Y., when the phone rang.

Calling was Mark Shapiro, who ran Lehman’s restructuring practice. He told him that Lehman’s lawyers were preparing a bankruptcy filing and that the board wanted Mr. Marsal’s firm to oversee the bankruptcy and eventual liquidation after Barclays and others bought pieces of the firm.

Since receiving that call, Mr. Marsal’s firm has been billing $13 million to $18 million a month in fees and expenses for its work on Lehman, a 160-year-old name on Wall Street.

Mr. Marsal says the firm will most likely bill at $13 million a month through October, just after the second anniversary of Lehman’s collapse. After that, rates will begin to decrease, although Alvarez & Marsal will also earn an incentive fee at the end of the case, which could total more than $50 million.

A jovial, self-deprecating man who points out a coffee stain on his shirt and, later, jokes that he wants to put on a blazer to hide a rotund midsection, Mr. Marsal is unapologetic about the fees that he and his staff are earning. Those fees pay for the salaries of the 150 people from Alvarez & Marsal now working inside Lehman (down from a peak of 185), including Mr. Marsal himself. He serves as Lehman’s C.E.O., while John Suckow, an Alvarez & Marsal managing director, is Lehman’s president and chief operating officer.

“The size of this case justifies the size of the fees,” says Mr. Marsal, shrugging as he sits in a conference room at Lehman’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Mr. Marsal and Mr. Suckow estimate that they have increased the potential recovery value for Lehman creditors by $4 billion to $5 billion in the last year.

Indeed, deciding whether these firms and their sky-high fees are justified is difficult because the bankruptcy trade is in uncharted territory. Several of the companies that went bankrupt in the last two years were significantly bigger than Enron, in terms of assets, when it collapsed in late 2001.

As if the magnitude of the bankruptcies weren’t enough, there’s also the matter of the complex financial instruments that some of the companies held.

“There was commercial real estate, bank loans — all of that stuff is pretty well known to our team, but derivatives? We hadn’t had much experience in derivatives,” acknowledges Mr. Marsal, who added that his firm hired two subcontractors to work through Lehman’s derivatives book.

Mr. Miller adds that those derivatives, even today, are taking up a lot of time and energy. “We’re still in the process of unwinding them,” he says, “which raises all sorts of difficult and novel legal issues.”

In April, Lehman filed a plan with the court that would create an asset-management business, called Lamco, that would manage Lehman’s real estate and private-equity assets for five years.

By not selling some assets at fire-sale prices, the estate will be able to recoup much more money for creditors, notes Mr. Marsal.

“The money that’s going to the creditors is my money,” he says, pointing out that he’s aligned with the creditors’ goals. That’s because, at the end of the case, Mr. Marsal’s firm will receive an incentive fee that is based on a percentage of the money returned to creditors.

Mr. Marsal says critics should be careful about identifying where problems lurk in bankruptcy fees. He says the savings that result from making sure that no one is flying first class to Europe are “peanuts.”

“You should be much more worried about the two or three lawyers who are overbilling and whether they should even be in attendance at a meeting,” he says. “I think the fee committee and the fee examiner is a lot of hooey.”

IF anyone is a master of getting to yes, it’s Kenneth Feinberg. As a mediator, he brokered settlements in long-running product liability suits brought by those who said they were victimized by Agent Orange, asbestos and the Dalkon Shield. More recently, he managed to win praise on delicate assignments like determining how much the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund should pay out — or what is an appropriate salary for an executive at a financial institution that the government propped up with taxpayer funds.

But he says that challenging bankruptcy lawyers is tougher in some ways. “In the 9/11 case, the country was behind me; as pay czar, there was a lot of support for what I was doing,” he says. “This is more problematic.”

In particular, Mr. Feinberg is perplexed by why fees keep rising in the Lehman case, even though it’s no longer the chaotic affair it was in the weeks and months after the bankruptcy filing. “Now the emergency is over; it is more like a traditional bankruptcy,” he says. “Yet the fees are higher than ever.”

Mr. Feinberg has managed to get under the skin of the lawyers in the case. And he is equally frustrated. His voice rising and Boston accent thickening (think “debt-ah” and “credit-ah”), he says that bankruptcy professionals “still haven’t gotten the message.”

The four-member Lehman fee committee, of which Mr. Feinberg is chairman, has disagreed about how to rein in fees, he says. But he declines to elaborate. Mr. Miller says it’s because creditors and debtors are willing to pay well so they can get “the best representation possible.”

On a rainy summer day last year, Mr. Feinberg journeyed to the plush offices of Mr. Miller in the General Motors building in Manhattan. His pitch was simple: Cut 10 percent to 15 percent right off the top of the fees being billed.

Mr. Miller and Dennis Dunne, a partner at Milbank who represents creditors, told him, “You don’t know how complicated this is; you don’t know how difficult it is,” Mr. Feinberg recalls.

Mr. Miller doesn’t dispute Mr. Feinberg’s account, and Mr. Dunne declined to comment for this article.

Despite these frictions, a deal was eventually struck.

Among the new fee rules being enforced are these: Air travel must be in coach class only. Ground transportation is limited to $100 a day, and only after 8 p.m. Hotel rooms are capped at $500 a night. Photocopy charges are limited to 10 cents a page. Late meals can’t be more than $20 each.

“If you continue to violate the very guidelines that are in place, 50 percent of the disputed amounts will be deducted,” says Mr. Feinberg. After that, the full amount will automatically be deducted, he added.

The lawyers reserve the right to challenge the fee committee’s decisions at the end of the case, but the ultimate call will be up to the bankruptcy judge, James Peck. He declined to comment.

Mr. Feinberg has so far challenged a very small percentage of the fees and expenses in the case. But he is intensifying his efforts. In March, the court increased his monthly budget to $250,000 from $75,000, giving Mr. Feinberg more accountants, examiners and others to pore over records and to zap overcharges. His firm and the fee committee have billed the Lehman estate $645,000 in fees for services through March.

Already, he’s called out Jones, Day, saying it charged $70,800 extra for photocopying and spent $2,856 too much on taxi rides last summer. According to court filings, a Jones, Day partner, William Hine, claimed more than $2,100 for late-night rides home in one month. Milbank, according to court filings, charged $148,426 just to compile its bills and time records — a move akin to a doctor charging a patient to prepare a bill after expensive, complex surgery.

“Lawyers don’t charge for invoice preparation except in bankruptcy,” Mr. Feinberg says. “I’ve prepared bills my entire professional life. You don’t charge a fee. Most people would argue that charging anything is inappropriate.”

Jones, Day and Milbank both declined to comment.

Like the restructuring executives, bankruptcy lawyers seem defiant and want to make sure precedents aren’t set that would make it easier to curb fees in the future.

“When people work late and they want to go home, we don’t like to send people in the subway at midnight or thereafter,” Mr. Miller says. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate to require people to fly coach for 15 hours and then go to a meeting.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Miller is going along with Mr. Feinberg’s guidelines.

“Those are the rules; we’re going to abide by the rules and pick up the difference,” Mr. Miller says.

FOR all his annoyance at Mr. Feinberg’s role in the Lehman case, Mr. Miller saves his real vitriol for Mr. Williamson, the fee examiner in the G.M. bankruptcy, which Weil also worked on. In the case’s first seven months, Weil accounted for $16.5 million of the $90 million in fees paid. Mr. Williamson objected to a small portion of the expenses. Weil, according to court documents, agreed to deduct $500 in expenses relating to the cancellation of a vacation, and said that any first-class travel charges were included “inadvertently” and reduced. It also agreed to pay for any meals in excess of $20.

Mr. Williamson also recommended that a 5 percent cut in Weil’s overall rates would be “appropriate,” especially given that several other large firms in the case already provided discounts.

“Williamson is way off base,” says Mr. Miller. “He perceives himself to be a sage, giving advice to the world, and that is not his role.”

Mr. Williamson wrote in an e-mail message: “Courts appoint independent examiners to help ensure transparency and accountability, most recently where tax dollars and significant economic issues are at stake. Not everyone, unfortunately, always appreciates either the role or the rules the examiner is bound to apply.”

Mr. Miller sees his own work as a battle between corporate life and death, with the money spent on photocopies and dry cleaning an insignificant detail.

“If you had cancer and you were going into an operation, while you were lying on the table, would you look at the surgeon and say, ‘I’d like a 10 percent discount,’ ” he explains. “This is not a public, charitable event.”