“Domain Name Arbitration”: An Old Testament for a New Body of Law

DNA-cover-front-final
The new UDRP Bible.

Internet law, “we” used to say, is a young man’s game.  We stopped saying it though — not because political correctness mandates that we say “young person,” though it does.

But no, “we” stopped saying it when we got old.  Wine ages well, but do lawyers?

Funny you should ask.

Now what we say (and we say it in all sincerity) is that lots of young lawyers get the Internet, but they’re still only young lawyers. On the other hand, an old, experienced, battle-scarred, been-there-done-that lawyer who also gets the Internet?  That’s a lawyer you hire!

I mean me, of course.  But how can I stand before Gerald M. Levine, master of UDRP domain name arbitration, who has just released the definitive guide to that topic?  It’s called Domain Name Arbitration: A practical guide to asserting and defending claims of cybersquatting under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution PolicyIt’s self-published, just like LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION, which means it’s a lot less expensive than if it were somebody-else published.  But it’s a darned fine book of words all the same.

That’s no surprise. Gerry Levine has been at this for a while; he was admitted to practice in New York the year I became a bar mitzvah.  That could in theory make him only little more than ten years older than your blogger, which is, yeah, old, for an “Internet lawyer.”  But actually Gerry’s way older than that — before law school Gerry he had already received a Ph.D in English Literature from NYU and taught for several years at Queens College at City University in New York.

Gerald M. Levine UDRP Expert
Veteran, yes, but not half as crusty as your blogger.

While I’m not sure why Gerry, who had been practicing litigation and ADR and working as an arbitrator for years before there was even such a thing as an Internet — heck, it may even have predated Al Gore’s bar mitzvah! — decided to develop a focus on UDRP practice in the middle of his second career, I’m glad he did.

That’s because his new book on the UDRP process thoroughly reflects his rich educational and breadth.  Indeed, I had long perceived the quality of Gerry’s work, and his gracious personal style, before I even knew his background or seen Domain Name Arbitration, which seems destined to become the standard work on the topic.

While I’ve never met Gerry, long-time author of the comprehensive UDRP Commentaries website, in person, we’ve been interacting on the Internet, including email, for years.  Not long ago we had an offline discussion, even chatting — how’s this for old school? — by phone about how he might better use Twitter to promote his exhaustive body of scholarly writings and his practice.  Gerry — who if you haven’t gotten my point is old enough to be my father (whose name was also Gerald) — listened with frank interest to my little thoughts on how social networking can be effective at promoting a legal practice, deferring to my pronunciamentos as if I were some kind of social media guru or something.

Maybe I is and maybe I isn’t, but Gerry Levine showed me how a man can indeed become authoritative on a topic:  By humbly listening and learning, with the goal of acquiring wisdom — from anyone credible-sounding (if only the wisdom not to listen to certain loudmouths any more) — and applying it. Those are skills that very few people are able to employ after a certain point in life, if ever. (In fact, Gerry has, for what it’s worth, come to use Twitter quite effectively, if a tad too humbly; so I’ll tell you that you should follow him as I do by clicking here.)

On a  heftier level, it is no surprise that when Gerry took up the task of mastering the UDRP system, he — as this book and the long list of his UDRP-related writings demonstrate — mastered it.

Like Doug Isenberg of Gigalaw  (another old “young Internet lawyer” and blogger) I had the privilege of seeing the galleys of Domain Name Arbitration so I could review it and contribute a blurb.  Doug’s excellent Q-and-A post with Gerald about the book is here, and the books been reviewed all over the place, so I’m not going repeat what’s already been said, other than to trot out, again, what I wrote after previewing the preview:

My involvement with the law of domain name disputes was early and intense, but lacking consistent focus on the substantive and procedural expansion of this intricate galaxy of practice, I shied away from the field.  But Gerald Levine’s Domain Name Arbitration is a game changer.  He’s produced a general trademark litigator’s guide to the previously uncharted domain-name expanses of the legal universe.  This work’s comprehensiveness, organization and clarity reflect its authors high level of distinction and professionalism.

That’s what I says on the back of his book.  It’s an honor to be there!  Speaking of which, quick story; I can’t promise a coherent segue, but I have nowhere else to put it:

Other blurbs, besides mine and Doug’s, are from Peter Müller; David Lahoti; Randazza, oddly enough, showing up again on the same page as me; and even more strange, the Hon. Carol Ferentz, J.S.C. (ret.).  That was a name I hardly expected to see on a book about Internet law, or hardly at all again.

Judge Ferentz,  however, whom I last encountered when she sat on the bench of the New Jersey Superior Court, is now an arbitrator. In his Acknowledgments, Gerry thanks her for her input into the manuscript.

And here I thank her for a painful and valuable lesson learned long ago.  For Carol Ferentz, as it turns out, was the first judge before whom I ever entered an appearance as an attorney.

I remember it all too well.  Though I will point out that while at the time, as wet as I was behind the ears — and as much as that appearance showed it — Judge Ferentz was ultimately very gracious about the whole thing.

Special Civil Part courtroom, Essex County Hall of Records, Newark NJ
Special Civil Part courtroom, Essex County Hall of Records, Newark NJ

And Gerry Levine had already been practicing law for 193 years by then, to return to my point.  And this book shows it — in a good way.

See, it’s all very nice to come out of law school, be really handy with your iPad and have so much social media savvy such that you don’t need a 50-something-year-old blogger (blogging? what’s that?) to tutor you at Twitter — or in the law.  Not that anyone’s offering, anyway.

So instead you open up your online solo “virtual law firm” from a park bench, and you can be a “cyberlawyer” even though you’re young enough to be my son or daughter.  You’ll pitch your cyberservices and never have the benefit of being boxed on the ears for incompetence in handling a default judgment damages inquest as Judge Ferentz did for me* in the days of dictated briefs — when the Superior Court in Newark had court reporters and didn’t have metal detectors.

Cyber all you want… but that doesn’t make you a lawyer.

So guys — lawyers — and gentlemen — such as Gerry Levine bring joy to the cockles of my own half-a-century-and-ticking ticker.  He’s working the nuvo-edge of legal concepts and is up to his elbows in concepts that didn’t exist before he hit middle age, and now look:  He’s put them to work publishing his own book, like a true 21st Century man, that reflects that mastery, masterfully.

And I didn’t ask him this, but from where I sit, Gerry’s high accomplishments come not despite the “delay” of a doctorate and teaching career in literature, but because of it.

Levine SamuelBetter men, broader men — and women — make better lawyers and judges.  And making these takes time.

It’s not the fault of today’s young bloods that there’s no time for time in our times.  But if you want the good stuff, even the new stuff, it’s not just a matter of old bottles.  It’s a matter of old casks.

Of course you want the good stuff, though — if you can get it fast.  Well, if you ever do anything related to the UDRP, spring for $185 to bestow on your client and, as a professional, yourself, the full-bodied richness of time — of Gerry Levine’s so-far lifetime of seasoning, pondering, striving, listening and learning (which includes the contribution of his partner in time, Sheila Levine, as Gerry acknowledges in the Acknowledgments).

That’s a small price for the bottle of finely-aged experience, judgment and wisdom, labeled Domain Name Arbitration.

_________

*  See what I did there?

Ron Coleman