by Tami Kamin-Meyer, Attorney at Law
July 15, 2008
Blogging, once the communication domain of tech-savvy youngsters, has evolved into something that’s the opposite of Trix, the cereal that touts itself as “for kids.” Increasingly, lawyers are creating blogs about their law practices, court rulings or whatever strikes their fancy.
Blogging is not only an opportunity to express yourself but also a great way to communicate your expertise, said Larry Bodine, president of Chicago-based Larry Bodine Marketing. Bodine, an attorney who advises law firms about marketing themselves, thinks all lawyers should blog.
For one, a blog is an excellent method for generating new business, creating leads from clients or referrals from other lawyers, he said. Blogs are not only simple but also inexpensive to create, he said.
Blogging has helped New Orleans-based attorney Ernie Svenson in many ways. “I can’t quantify it,” he said. Though he said he’s unsure whether clients have called him as a direct result of his blog, “I know I get work because of it because I have a wider recognition.”
Bodine, however, said he’s certain that blogging has been a boon to his career. “I get a call a week from newspaper reporters who saw my blog,” he said, “which has given me greater media exposure.”
The “Prose” and Cons of Blogging
Blogging “connects me with the world,” Svenson said. Known in cyberspace as Ernie the Attorney, Svenson said he enjoys the immediate feedback of reader comments and e-mails responding to his blog posts.
For Svenson, whose law practice focuses on business litigation, blogging has expanded his universe. “Having a weblog changed the way I view the world,” he said. For example, whereas he used to become sullen by a negative comment left on his blog, today he takes those incidents in stride. “It can be hard to take, but it’s also helped me thicken my skin,” he said.
Tony Colleluori has been blogging for four years but said he’s unable to consistently write new posts. “I have a difficult time getting into a rhythm,” said the Long Island criminal defense attorney. He said he’s such a fan of blogs that he often leaves comments on other writer’s blogs, usurping the time needed for his own blogging.
It’s important for blogging lawyers not to accidentally reveal confidential client information in their posts. To prevent that from happening, Colleluori said he swears by one rule: He does not blog when he is in trial. That way, he said, there’s no chance he’ll accidentally divulge anything he should not.
Svenson blogs by a similar credo. “I don’t talk about my cases or my clients,” he said. He does so not only because lawyers are not allowed to reveal confidences. “I don’t want an opponent to think they have insight into me and my way of thinking,” he said.
Reading or Writing a Lawyer’s Blog
Whether you’re a potential client searching for a lawyer to represent you in a legal matter or an attorney pondering a leap into the world of blogs, keep in mind certain considerations when deciding what to read or write about.
For attorney bloggers, “look for what area [of law] generates the most money [for the law firm] and then blog about it,” Bodine advises. If still pressed for ideas, lawyers can blog about new state laws, newly released court opinions or even about what’s going on in the state legislature, he said. Better yet, he said, “write about a case you won — a success story.”
Before writing a blog, Svenson says it’s best to research the process. Numerous software programs will host a blog, some at no charge. Potential bloggers should consider whether they want to sell advertisements on their blog or allow readers to comment on blog posts.
For people searching for particular information in a blog, Bodine recommends being as narrow as possible. For example, if searching for an attorney who specializes in a particular area of law, remember to include the word “lawyer” or “attorney” in your blog search description, he says.
Colleluori agrees. “If you’re looking for general information, there are a lot of blogs to check out.” he said. “But if you’re seeking specific information, go to a site written by people with expert knowledge.”
Bodine advises readers to verify whether a blog has recent posts. “Choose a live versus a dead blog,” he said. A blog quickly becomes stale, so if new posts aren’t added on a consistent basis, readers have little incentive to return.
Tami Kamin-Meyer is an Ohio attorney also licensed in federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a freelance writer and Ohio correspondent for Legalnewsline.com, a website about state attorneys general and state Supreme Courts.