Profile in Brief: Wayne State Professor both a 'Bear' and blogger

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By Mike Scott

Legal News

In the wild, bears tend to be solitary animals. But little did Linda Beale know that an interest in blogging would lead to her becoming one of a select number of "angry bears."

Beale, a Wayne State University associate professor of law, recently was recognized as one of the "top economics bloggers" as surveyed by the Kaufman Foundation on economic and tax policy issues. The Kauffman Foundation is globally recognized as one of the leading entrepreneurship foundations of its kind.

Beale's experience blogging on a number of financial issues is extensive. Since 2001 she has been blogging on a variety of tax, economics, finance and other such issues at various sites, including her own personal blog, A Taxing Matter at http://ataxingmatter.blogs.com. Recently she has begun blogging on the Web site, AngryBear.com.

Beale is not originally from the Detroit area but has been teaching at Wayne State for three years. Before that she was a practicing tax attorney for the firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York City, after obtaining her J.D. and doctorate from Cornell University. It was when Beale was teaching tax law at the University of Illinois in 2001 that she first became an active blogger.

"That was at the start of a period when people talked about academic blogging," Beale said. "Once I looked into it more I determined it would be a good way for me to write about issues and express my personal views on a variety of financial subjects."

Beale considered blogging to be a "perfect complement" to teaching as an outlet for her knowledge and more academic or scholarship endeavors such as publishing in legal journals. It also allowed her to express her opinion in a way that didn't require a high level of technical background and information.

"The great thing about a blog is that you can write something that appeals to a layman, or someone not closely involved in the tax or economic realm," Beale said. "It allows me to explain topics in a different way to people who may not be (working) with such subjects on a regular basis."

Beale's background in the area is particularly valuable. While at Cleary Gottlieb, her client base included a variety of Wall Street clients and major financial firms. She was largely responsible for cross border deals, transactions, and other tax related matters.

America's top economics bloggers represent a diverse group of writers with wide-ranging intellectual and political vantage points on one of the most important issues of the day -- the economy, according to the Kauffman Foundation Web site.

"As independent thinkers who are immersed in discourse through the innovation of blogging, these economics writers have a unique voice and perspective, and potentially profound influence," the Web site continued as part of an introduction of its "Quarterly Survey of Top Economics Bloggers" released in January.

Beale's experience and knowledge has allowed her to become a member of AngryBear.com. As a blogger on that Web site, Beale is part of a small yet distinguished group of legal and economic experts who weigh in on a variety of financial topics. The Web site represents some of the best minds in the field, and the opportunity to blog there is by invitation only.

"The (creator of the Web site) followed me a little bit and reached out to me a few times," Beale said. "From there a new blogger has to get approval from the other bloggers on AngryBear.com before they are accepted and welcomed into the blog community."

Beale admits that AngryBear.com is comprised of bloggers who often sit "left of center" on a variety of economic topics. She believes strongly in the importance of tax policy as a way to better serve the interests and needs of a democratic society -- in other words, tax policy practiced by a government can help make the lives of its citizens better.

Whether blogging on AngryBear.com or her own site, Beale admits that blogging is a significant responsibility. She often feels like she owes her readers regular postings because of their interest in following her. And her blogging has allowed Beale to become involved in ongoing discussions with professionals and residents all over the world.

"There are times that we talk back and forth for several days," Beale said. "The great thing about that is I am connected and am having conversations with people I would never have met in the course of my life otherwise."

And Beale does have a significant following. She gets comments from professionals at the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Treasury, and other governmental and private sector contacts. Students and fellow faculty member, lawyers and stay-at-home-parents are all part of her loyal followers. They all provide her with different views on a variety of topics -- all of which she appreciates.

For Beale, blogging is truly a labor of love. One of her next goals is to invite her fellow AngryBear.com bloggers to her home in downtown Detroit, a few minutes from the Wayne State University campus.

"That's something I really want to do and I'm determined to bring them here," Beale said. "We'll have some great discussion and maybe we can all blog from my home."

Published: Wed, Feb 24, 2010

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