With the increasing use of new media by lawyers, the task of keeping legal briefs interesting and persuasive can be a challenge, even to lawyers with major Klout. Nevertheless, subliminal hashtagging could be the next new trend in the law, particularly in the coming year.
If you have not yet microblogged, a hashtag is a number symbol (#) followed by a string of letters and numbers that usually make sense. The hashtag is included at the end of a micropost to keep things fun and to make you trendy and influential. Although the FCC banned the use of subliminal messages in advertising in the 1970’s, the use of subliminal hashtags in legal briefs remains #A-Okay.
Sure, the first instance of using a hashtag in a legal brief ultimately was a typo and no one has since revisited the power and efficacy of hashtags. That will change. Here are our Top 5 suggested subliminal hashtags for the coming year.
1. #FTW This hashtag is slick. Short for “For The Win,” don’t confuse FTW with #WTF, which is a commonly used acronym for “What The Fuck.” Use FTW as a subtle persuasive technique to convince a judge that your argument determines the outcome of the case. Example usage: “In the instant case, the Eighth Circuit has held that the state may forcibly inject a nondangerous citizen with mindaltering antipsychotic drugs for the sole purpose of making him competent to stand trial on fraud charges. #FTW”
2. #diggit A play on words traditionally coined by users of the social bookmarking service Digg, this hashtag can be used satirically to enhance particularly dull points in your legal argument or seriously to accentuate the brilliance of your legal research. Example usage: “In United States v. Brandon, 158 F.3d 947 (6th Cir. 1998) the Sixth Circuit agreed with the Bee court that a pretrial detainee has, among other interests, ‘a First Amendment interest in avoiding forced medication, which may interfere with his ability to communicate ideas.’” Brandon, 158 F.3d at 953. #diggit”
3. #foshizzle While at first glance foshizzle may signal that your argument has powerful street cred, it is actually much more subtle when used properly. In its simplest use, foshizzle impresses your client with aggressive “in your face” advocacy. But foshizzle actually signals to a judge that a particular argument, which you feel compelled to make by request of the client, sucks big time. Example usage: “Though petitioner was born, raised, and resided in the State at the time of the incident, he has disclaimed United States and Michigan citizenship and thus requests to be treated as ‘Foreign’ and a ‘Non-Resident Alien’ #foshizzle.”
4. #notreally One of the most popular and snarky hashtags on Twitter, a conjugation of the words “not” and “really,” can be useful if you want to test whether the judge has read all the way to page 30 of your brief. Example usage: “The right of a person to liberty, autonomy and privacy over his or her own thought processes is #notreally situated at the core of what it means to be a free person.”
5. #w00t This just gets people excited about stuff. It’s important to note the double-zeros, as using regular old small cap 0’s just isn’t as trendy, interesting, or persuasive. Example usage: “The Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) is exploring the use of various pharmaceutical psychoactive ‘calmative’ agents in a number of contexts, including civilian crowd control by blanket sedation. #w00t”
Which hashtags are you successfully (or unsuccessfully) subliminating into your legal briefs? As this trend develops, we are eager to hear your ups and downs on this. Submit them here or in the comments below and we’ll provide a reference list later to use as you draft important court documents.