I don't think it was successful. But who knows. At one point, the attorney cross-examining me asked if one of the reasons I liked to do consulting work was because it pays well. I answered, "I would say that's one of the reasons." That wasn't a hard answer to give; it's an honest answer. But afterward I recalled that, years ago, I had talked about consulting on my blog. I looked it up, and sure enough, here is what I wrote years ago:
I enjoy consulting, for several reasons:
Based on my experience as a witness, I am of very high certainty that the attorney had this post in front of him when he asked the question. Of course, when he asked the question, he failed to note the other reasons I had given for consulting, or provide me the blog post for context. But my assumption is that they were simply looking for a "gotcha" moment. Perhaps the question and my response made me look bad to the jury. (After subsequent clarifying questions on the issue from the client's attorney, I would like to believe it had no effect.) I imagine that they were hoping that I would say that the pay wasn't important, in which case I am sure they would have readily put up the post from my blog to show the jury to try to discredit me.
- It fulfills a need to be more directly relevant to the real world.
- It gives me a chance to work with different sets of people.
- It allows me to learn new things and exercise skills that I don't necessarily use as a professor.
- It pays well.
I talk very little about my legal consulting on the blog or publicly. The main reason, obviously, is out of respect for and professional obligation to my clients. But I find I don't blog about it even in very general terms, where confidentiality or other similar issues would not come into play. And one good reason not to is that an attorney could use anything I write on the subject to try to impeach my credibility as a witness, even if it is out of context.
Of course, as this example shows, anything I post online can potentially later be used against me in a case or in court. Or in other situations. These issues regarding our permanent digital identity, and how modern technology allows our past to easily be brought up and used against us, are not new; I'm not suggesting I'm offering novel insight here. Really, I'm just relaying an instance where the issue of my digital identity, in the context of this blog, hit me head on. Certainly when I wrote that post years ago about consulting I did not think it would come up later in this way. Mostly it makes me wonder how my children, who are busy exploring their own identities (digital and otherwise), will manage in a world where most of their history will be available online, for people to use or misuse in ways that I could not imagine.