Build Your Own WordPress Dashboard Widget for Any RSS Feed

It’s easy to add your own dashboard widget to WordPress, and one of the easiest to widgets to add is one that displays recent updates from any RSS feed. I put together the above widget for a project I am working on so we can promote Lawyerist posts to users.

Here’s what goes into the theme’s functions.php (or custom_functions.php, in the case of Thesis) file:

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HOME Line Website Renovation Launched!

Tuesday night, I launched a refreshed HOME Line website. HOME Line is a non-profit tenant advocacy organization that “provides free and low-cost legal, organizing, education, and advocacy services” to Minnesota tenants. I have been involved with home line for nearly a decade, and I am a member its board of directors.

The number of people who visit HOME Line’s website for help has been steadily increasing, and we decided to renovate the look and feel to help visitors get to the information they need faster. Now that the visual renovation is complete, I will be working with HOME Line to reorganize and consolidate the content and streamline the navigation.

The website is WordPress + Thesis.

Make Polldaddy Comment Ratings Work with Thesis

The Polldaddy Polls & Ratings WordPress plugin is an easy way to enable readers to rate comments, either on a 5-star scale, or “Nero”-style thumbs up or down. However, it won’t work for adding ratings to comments if you use Thesis.

Fortunately, it is an easy fix. Just go to Plugins > Editor, then select the Polldaddy Polls & Ratings plugin from the drop-down menu and click the Select button. Below Plugin Files, click on the polldaddy/rating.php link. Use Ctrl+F to search for comment_text, which should take you to this line:

add_filter( 'comment_text', 'polldaddy_show_rating_comments', 50 );

Just replace it with this line:

add_filter( 'thesis_comment_text', 'polldaddy_show_rating_comments', 50 );

Click the Update File button, and your ratings should show up. Just remember that you will have to update this any time the Polldaddy Polls & Ratings Plugin gets updated.

Check Me Out in the Volunteer Lawyers Network Annual Report

The Volunteer Lawyers Network helps thousands of low-income Minnesotans every year, providing free legal services to Minnesotans who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. I have been volunteering with VLN since I graduated from law school in 2003, and I joined the board of directors in 2010. VLN named me its Volunteer of the Year in 2011, which earned me a place in its annual report (PDF).

Here’s the writeup:

Sam Glover has been an active participant with Volunteer Lawyers Network since he graduated from law school in 2003. Since then, he has started his own practice, been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star, continued his extensive advocacy for consumer rights, and currently serves on VLN’s board of directors.

For the first few years of his practice, Sam focused his work around the ever-changing field of creditor/debtor issues. At VLN, he applied his extensive knowledge to increasing the resources necessary to deliver quality brief services. “One of the things I’m really excited to see grow is the brief legal services.” Sam was instrumental in the development of VLN’s consumer protection workshop. The workshop provides a structure for volunteer attorneys to complete court paperwork for clients responding to lawsuits. VLN arms volunteers with the tools necessary to offer a full range of options with efficiency and confidence. “One of the most impressive things about VLN is how it is able to take a small office of people and leverage it into an army of volunteers. VLN does an enormous amount of good.”

Sam Glover’s sustained contribution to the Minnesota legal community and to VLN has done much to enrich the quality and availability of legal services for those in need. What does justice mean to Sam? “I think justice boils down to something very simple, and that’s just getting a fair deal. Like it or not, the system is stacked against those who cannot afford lawyers versus those who can afford good lawyers. VLN does a lot to balance the scale, by getting good lawyers to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them.”

VLN gives access to justice to those who cannot afford it. It is vital to Minnesota, and I am proud to be a part of it. You can donate now to help keep VLN strong, or find out about volunteer opportunities.

Numbered Page Navigation for WordPress with Thesis 1.8

I wanted to share my code for numbered page navigation in Thesis. I started with a numbered pages tutorial that no longer exists, but wound up modifying it to add smart first/last and prev/next buttons.

You can see it in action on Caveat Emptor, Lawyerist, and Bitter Lawyer.

Here is what to plug into your custom.css file:

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William Mitchell Law Review publishes my article on debt buyer lawsuits

My article, Has the Flood of Debt Collection Lawsuits Swept Away Minnesotans’ Due Process Rights? (pdf) was published in the William Mitchell Law Review, volume 35, number 3. In the article, Sam takes a hard look at the effect of Minnesota’s permissive procedural rules and garnishment laws, which have encouraged the enormous — and growing — volume of collection lawsuits.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

In Minnesota, debt collectors and debt buyers may commence lawsuits without filing them, garnish bank accounts and wages without paying a filing fee, and obtain default judgments without producing evidence to substantiate their claims. Debt collectors in Minnesota take advantage of favorable rules and laws, together with their knowledge that defendants often do not understand their rights, and collect millions from consumers every year. In this process, debt collectors are sweeping away Minnesotans’ due process rights in a flood of collection lawsuits.