Photo of Bexis

The Drug and Device Law Blog is four years old.  Our first post – our once lampooned but more recently copied “Disclaimers and Terms of Use,” went up four years ago yesterday.  Our first substantive post…. Well, that took a little longer.  We’ve survived four years now.

We celebrated our first birthday here – full of vim and vigor.

We contemplated our second birthday here, a bit more philosophically.

We staggered through our third birthday here, feeling old.

Four years of age is ancient for a legal blog whose contributors are attorneys in private practice.  Not having time for a comprehensive survey, we simply checked out the blogs on our blog roll.  Only Cal Biz Lit, which came online a couple of months after ours, is anywhere near as old – at least in terms of continuous blogging.  Of the rest on our list, only the FDA Law Blog (Hyman Phelps), the Life Sciences Legal Update (Reed Smith) and Mass Tort Defense (Dechert partner Sean Wajert) are significantly more than half our geriatric lifespan – in terms of continuous operation.

There are older legal blogs.  Overlawyered comes immediately to mind.  But most of those aren’t written by lawyers who still (privately) practice what they preach.  Sort of reminds of the saying about “old pilots” and “bold pilots.”   There are times when, feeding the blog’s insatiable appetite, we do feel like old, bold pilots.

We don’t take sabbaticals here at Drug and Device Law.  Litigation doesn’t stop and neither do we.

In a lot of ways, we’re the same as we are when we started four years ago.  We address substantive legal issues concerning drug and device (and occasionally vaccine) product liability litigation, we hope in a readable, accessible fashion.  But we don’t do pictures or fancy graphics – only content.  Not that there’s anything wrong with pictures. We’re great fans, for example, of the comic book cover posts over at Abnormal Use. By the way, thank y’all for the shout out, guys.  We appreciate it.

We’re conservative (a lot of defense lawyers are) so, after 1359 posts, we’re still using the same clunky (defiantly so) layout that comes with Google’s free blogger software/website.  We’ve thought about changing, but our bare-bones, substance-only layout is part of what we are and what we do, so we think we’ll keep it.  Besides, the orange and green format reminds Bexis of some of the license plates from his home state of Georgia (only they called orange, “peach”) back when he was growing up.

Another thing we don’t do is much legal marketing.  We figure the best self/firm promotion we can do is by doing what we’ve been good at doing, and that’s to provide others who defend drug/device manufacturers with information that’s of use in winning cases for their clients with problems similar to our own.  A rising tide, after all, lifts all boats.  As long as we provide useful legal analysis and (sometimes) news, we figure our readers will think we’re good lawyers that they might want to hire or collaborate with in appropriate cases.  That’s enough.  We learned long ago – before we started blogging – that, whatever the subject, it’s better to show an audience than to tell them.  So as long as we do this, that’s how we’ll go about it.

As regular readers know, however, there have been also some changes here at the Drug And Device Law Blog.  By far the biggest was the retirement of one of the two founding bloggers, Mark Herrmann, at the end of 2009.  Mark used to be a partner at Jones Day, and the compromises necessary to maintain a blog where the contributors were members of different firms both competing for the same client base were in large part responsible for our “just the facts, ma’am” style that’s served us so well.

Herrmann’s now in house Aon, the big insurance broker, as his swan song post mentioned.  Bexis had dinner with him the other day, and he’s happy – and a lot more relaxed – these days.  As a litigator for many years, Herrmann mainlined adrenalin with the best of them.  He’d kicked that habit successfully, and settled nicely into the in-house role.  He still has the same wicked sense of humor, so anybody pitching Aon for business better watch out.  He also might start blogging again (look out), about in-house counsel issues, but he’ll announce that when/if he’s good and ready.

As we told our readers when Herrmann hung up his keyboard, Dechert was more than happy to lend a hand to keep the blog running.  Hence our current line-up of regular contributors:  Bexis, the sole surviving son of the original blog, Steve McConnell, Will Sachse, and Dave Walk (anybody can access our bios in the right-hand margin).  In an increasingly competitive blogging environment – plaintiff-side blogs are getting better – our new line up isn’t afraid to mix it up with the other side.

Our current line up is the second “four” in the title of this post, if anyone needed the hint.

Another new thing we’ve done over the past year is to create issue “cheat sheets” to go along with our previous “scorecards.” Our scorecards are for issues where our side is winning, because they include both favorable and unfavorable decisions.  But we don’t want to do the plaintiffs’ research for them, so we needed something more versatile.  So we created the cheat sheets, which address issues that have had more mixed results.  We’d prefer more scorecards, because we prefer winning more issues, but we think our cheat sheets are better than nothing.

You, our readers, have continued to support us through all our changes.  We’ve added well over an additional hundred subscribers to our Google group over the last year.  The group is now up to over 620 (and that’s with culling emails that bounce, which we do) members.  Anybody who wants to join can type his/her e-mail address in the blank that’s in the right-hand column towards the bottom.  Our RSS feed subscribers (the blank next to the orangey ripple button on the right hand side) now number slightly more than our Google Group.  And our Twitterers – or is it “Twitterees” – who get only the post headlines, now check in at more than 450.

So we have nearly 1700 subscribers to each of our posts who don’t even have to come to the blog itself to know what we’re saying.

On top of all that, we continue to get between (roughly) 20,000 and 30,000 pageviews each month from the rest of the Internet, mostly from non-subscribers who drop by for whatever reason to check us out.

Not bad for a niche blog.   There are only so many people out there interested in drug and medical device product liability.  We hope that those who are listen to us.

Beyond our viewers, we’re especially grateful to those of you – and you know who you are – who get in touch with us off-line and let us know about new opinions, new litigation strategies, new law review articles, and other new stuff that keeps us informed about what’s going on in the various corners of our sandbox.  We’re more than happy to give credit where credit is due, or to keep our contributors’ identities confidential, depending on individual circumstances.

We’ll keep typing as long as you keep reading – deal?

We thank all those who continue to visit us, and you all can have some cybercake courtesy of the Drug and Device Law Blog.