Why blog?

Blogging is a simple, cheap, efficient, effective way to publish and update time-sensitive information, particularly in constantly-changing fields such as the law. Blogging puts in your hands publishing power even greater than that which was the preserve of only large, established publishers with fat wallets not so long ago. Content management, feed generation, subscriber management, search engine optimisation: all is built in for free. That’s reason enough for almost everyone and every organisation to consider blogging.

Blogs are not just a publishing format, but a networking tool, a means to reach out and engage with an audience; and blogging is not just about publishing, but about conversing and contributing. That’s how blogs started out – with the desire to share thoughts and “write out loud”.

Writing in the now defunct Solicitors Journal, David Allen Green offered a considered list of reasons Why some lawyers should blog, and why some should not:

“Blogging allows the lawyer a different type of creative freedom that cannot be done in any of the other forms of legal writing, and I contend there are three reasons why all lawyers should consider blogging … and one reason why they should not. … [first] it enables the lawyer – from a student to a retired judge – to develop as a lawyer … [second] it helps you connect with others – from potential clients to professional peers – on terms that show what you are good at and what interests you … [and third] it promotes the public understanding of law and the legal profession. … The one bad reason to blog is to do it just for the sake of it.”

For reasons to blog, I prefer to look back to early proponents of blogging who recognised the potential of this new literary form. Andrew Sullivan, writing in The Atlantic in November 2008 on Why I blog concluded:

“The blogosphere has added a whole new idiom to the act of writing and has introduced an entirely new generation to nonfiction. It has enabled writers to write out loud in ways never seen or understood before.”

This “writing out loud” is what Robert Scoble and Shel Israel dubbed Naked Conversations in their 2006 book of that title, subtitled “How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers”. The core thesis concerned communicating authentically and making a connection with an audience.

From a business perspective, if you have something to contribute in your field of expertise, simply by showing who you are on your blog, you will engage with your peers and your market; and by showing what you know, you will promote yourself without the need for glossy brochures, calculated networking or other self-promotion that may not sit easily with you.

Of course, most individual lawyers don’t have the time or the inclination or the talent to blog though they may see the benefit in so doing. In the absence of any committed bloggers within a firm, the law firm news blog might seem like a reasonable compromise. But understand that you are competing with the very best law news sources nationally.

Law firm blogs need to be focused (usually on a particular practice area), to have personality (usually meaning it’s not “the firm” but individuals or small groups that should blog) and to be engaging (providing comment and analysis and perhaps stirring things up a little) or to deliver some other value that cannot be found elsewhere.

Nick Holmes is Editor of the Newsletter. Email nickholmes@infolaw.co.uk. Twitter @nickholmes.

Image: cc by Amy Gahran on Flickr.