THE LAWYERS WEEKLY
March 11, 2011 | 25
Have you heard of the recent
flick Julie & Julia It came from
a book which, itself, sprouted
from a blog.
The original blog (the vehicle
in which the then-aspiring struggling writer Julie Powell published) contains individual posts
(roughly analogous to journal
entries) which became fodder for
the book and movie inspired by
the popular chef Julia Child.
Yet even with a Hollywood
profile, prominent blawgers are
asking if blawgs are in decline.
“Lawyers got to the party just as
it was winding down,” quips Simon
Fodden, founder of über-blawg
Slaw.ca, even as he says there are
many more Canadian blawgs than
there were even two years ago.
Rochester, N.Y.-based lawyer
Nicole Black concurs, stating
that blawgs (aka law blogs)
peaked in 2010.
But she recalls what her blog
did for her in 2005.
Coming off a three-year hiatus
from law during which she had
two children, Black edged her
way back into the industry doing
contract work for other lawyers.
At a time when blawgs weren’t
as common as they are today, Black
started Sui Generis to publish her
thoughts on areas of law she was
familiar with. “That blog got me
back out there, showed I still knew
how to think like a lawyer,” she says.
While not leading to her current position, of counsel with
Fiandach & Fiandach, it did help
raise her profile, land periodical
columns and co-author books,
including Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier.
“More than anything else, it’s
been the networks,” says Omar
Ha-Redeye of blawging’s bene-
fits. “My contacts internationally
have grown. That’s wonderful.
You never know what kind of
work you’ll do down the road.”
Currently articling in a bou-
tique Toronto litigation firm, he
couldn’t recall how many blogs he
has authored or written for. “I have
been approached by law firms and
I haven’t even been called to the
Bar yet,” Ha-Redeye says. (Note: it
can’t hurt his resume to mention
Fodden, Black and Ha-Redeye
have clearly built value using
blawgs. If you want to do the
same, consider these pointers.
1. Do you like to write?
“You must like what you’re
writing about or the blawg will
flop,” Black says. “That’s the only
way to stand out.”
2. Will you have time to write?
Longer, in-depth posts take
time to plan, write and revise.
“You have to have a real desire to
blawg that makes you set aside
time in your schedule to blawg,”
Fortunately, there are shortcuts.
Black spends 1. 5 hours each month
maintaining her Legal Antics site,
where she reposts material from
other places and adds her own
short descriptions to posts.
If you want to post your own
ideas, could you work with a ghost-blawger? Would you participate in
a “group blawg” like Slaw?
3. Will you have time to read?
All great writers are voracious
readers, and great blawgers are
no exception. “You must find out
what’s out there, how it’s done,”
quickly. If this part proves too
“techie” for you to handle, consider contracting the services of a
web designer who works with
“I’m not a technophile,” Ha-Redeye claims. “I took courses to
learn these skills.”
“Regular” depends on the
blawger, time constraints, objectives and other criteria. Noting
that frequently updated websites
catch Google’s attention, Ha-Redeye recommends daily posts
for blawgers who want to build
their profile quickly.
n;Give legal information, not
n;Review posts before you publish so you don’t cross this line.
n;Develop a unique voice — or not
Certain blawgers freely share
opinions online, which often
makes their blawgs interesting
reads. But they also risk offending people like colleagues, potential clients and members of the
judiciary. It’s your call.
LUCIAN MILASAN / DREAMSTIME.COM
“It takes a certain
type of person to
care for and feed
a blawg. Are you
that type of person?
Develop a vision for your blawg
What do you want to write
about? Who do you want to write
it for? What online conversations
do you want to contribute to?
How would blawging contribute
to an overall firm communications strategy? What do your colleagues and managing partners
think about your blawg idea?
These and other questions will
help you focus your blawg for the
audience you want to reach.
Whatever your schedule, stick
to it. “It’s a conversation, and if
you fall asleep during the conversation too frequently, people will
ignore you,” Fodden says.
Filter and moderate comments
Yes, even blawgs get spammed.
Filters (like Akismet for Wordpress) prevent the vast majority
of comment spam from infesting
your blog posts.
“Legitimate” comments can
be double-edged. While most
posts will only attract attention
within the legal community and
result in largely thoughtful discussion, some posts might
attract wider, and sometimes
unwanted, attention. That’s why
many blawgers have comments
held for approval.
“You can get cranks, and
people who comment after too
much wine, and comment out of
anger,” Fodden says. “I usually
contact the commenter to ask for
comments that are less inflammatory or defamatory.”
Do reality checks
It takes a certain type of person to care for and feed a blawg.
Are you that type of person? Ask
yourself the following questions
to find out.
Come up with blawg post ideas
Riff off recent court decisions.
Subscribe to RSS feeds of websites
your audience reads (or needs to).
Read fine publications like The
Lawyers Weekly. Ideas abound all
around you, so keep pen and paper
at the ready when you come across
topics that fit your blawg’s vision.
Choose a blogging platform
Systems like TypePad, Blogger
and Wordpress let you get started
Write for the web
“On the web, try brevity,” Ha-
Redeye says. “If you’re too ver-
bose, you come off as pompous,
To that end:
n;Write short paragraphs
n;Use bullets and subheads to
help readers scan your posts
n;Add images, audio and video
clips where appropriate
n;Use important keywords
This should come naturally
when you write about your
practice area and will help raise
your blawg’s profile among
Promote your blog
n;Look for ways to get the word
out about your blawg.
n;Don’t overlook easy steps.
n;Include your blawg address in
your email signature, office sta-
tionery and promotional items
you send to clients and prospects.
n;Invite other blawgers to con-
tribute posts to your blawg, and
offer posts to other blawgs.
n;Be selective and tactful when
contacting other blawgers. “First
establish a rapport with the
blawger. Don’t just contact blaw-
gers out of the blue and offer
topics that aren’t relevant to their
blawg,” Black advises.
n;Use other social media.
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