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A community of FOSS lawyers?

Mar 30, 2010, 13:33 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Luis Villa)

"There is a fairly common perception among FOSS hackers that there is no community of FOSS lawyers. Scratch the surface, though, and it turns out that- despite our handicaps- the FOSS legal community is there and growing. Since this question recently came up in the context of Mozilla's decision to revise the MPL, I thought it might be a good time to talk about this community here at opensource.com.

"A big part of why so many people have assumed that there is no legal community of practice is because lawyers have a lot of structural and cultural barriers to forming real communities of practice. The common practice of billing by the hour encourages us to be very skeptical of any work which doesn't give an immediate payoff. Our occasional arrogance about the complexity of what we do makes it very, very hard to break down the insider/outsider boundary. And our habitual allergy to cluetrain-style plain English, which is so essential to a functional community that it isn't even mentioned in The Open Source Way, is obviously also a problem. On top of all these other problems, the structures of privilege, evidence, and ethics law combine to make lawyers very nervous about discussing anything in public. We're explicitly taught that doing things in public has very few upsides and vast numbers of potential downsides."

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