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Blogging for Lawyers

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What do you tell lawyers who ask you about blogging? Top of my list are these:

· Read other lawyers blogs (the good, the bad, and the ugly – content and style matter)

· Read some of the best of the lawyers who write ABOUT blogging. I include these to start with, but there are others:

1) Jim Calloway’s blog and his specific posts on blogging.
2) Dennis Kennedy
3) Robert Ambrogi (who also has great stuff in the OSB Bulletin) (and especially this where he comments on this 🙂
4) Carolyn Elefant at MyShingle and her blog posts

I also say the following, but the professionals (above) explain the art and craft of blogging more thoroughly and certainly not off the cuff, which is why they are pros:

· Read other law blogs carefully and critically, especially the good ones, the ones by bloggers who write about blogging, the blogs that end up on the Top 10 or 100 lists, and the ones that you don’t like (you need to know what doesn’t work as well as what does).

· Don’t use a blog instead of a web site if you are a business. Use a blog to attract people to your web site and your business. A visitor to your blog should be able to skip the blog easily and get to the business end of your firm. Your firm’s web site could have a link to the blog.

· Research: Read up on domain name selection and registration, search engines, and blogging software (searchenginewatch is a good place to begin).

· Research: Select a name for your blog (and for a domain name). This is harder than it sounds. You want it to be easy to find, to tell people about, and to be informative. Do you want the name to be related to your practice or the subject of your blog or just memorable?

· More Research: Register your domain name with one of the domain-name registration services.

· Open an email account for your blog. You may not (you don’t!) want email going to your personal or even the law firm email account. It’s easy enough to set up a dedicated email account with a free service, e.g. Yahoo, Google, etc.

· Blog mates are terrific, but better none at all than the wrong ones. Pick your blog-mates carefully. Finding people who will share the workload and can meet the standards you set, for content, style, grammar, etc. is hard.

· If blogging as a team, get together to decide the who, what, and when of the blog. Decide on goals, how to stay on point, who edits, whose writing needs editing, etc. A good example of a blog team that works and plays well together is the Law Librarian Blog.

· Humor helps, a lot, on the blog and off. The best bloggers have great senses of humor and we’re glad of it, which is not to say that darkness never falls.

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4 responses to “Blogging for Lawyers”

  1. Laura –

    I think you left off a big item from your list.

    – Pick a topic and stay focused on it.

  2. Laura the Law Lib says:

    I left a lot out, but staying on topic is surely one of the most important ones I omitted.

    Thankfully, law librarianship, and legal research, covers a lot of ground, not to mention that the profession serves multiple users (lawyers, other librarians, judges, legislators, the public, students, etc.) so we have a little more freedom to blog topic-roam than single-topic bloggers, in fact we are obliged to, roam that is 🙂

    Laura

  3. Dave Matson says:

    The technical research part of your recommendations can be overwhelming to many people, and are also overrated.

    You aren’t even following your own advice on those points (nor should you be).

    For many people, registering a domain name is complicated, and shouldn’t be necessary. You can do very well with a free and simple blogging platform like this one (blogger), or others from wordpress or typepad.

    The critical element is regular blog posting that is topical, interesting, and useful.

  4. Laura the Law Lib says:

    Dave makes valuable points, especially to the extent that my list sets up barriers to someone who might otherwise just want to test the blogging waters. But my list comes not only from my own experience but from lawyer-bloggers themselves (and is why I refer readers to the experts for practical business advice).

    For me, as a public law librarian, the technical research may not be that important, but for a solo or small law firm practitioner I still maintain that attorneys should not only understand domain registration (and beyond) but that they should do it. A blogging trial-run (no pun 🙂 or practice-blog (no pun again 🙂 is one thing. But once you decide you can and want to post regularly and seriously to your own blog, you need to protect your “blogging investment.” A blog name that serves you well, a dedicated email address, and a domain registration (simple enough for even me to do – and heaven knows I’m no techie!) are not steep hurdles. Once your blogging becomes part of your business and your reputation, the steps I outline are only the beginning.

    Last, I mention searchenginewatch dot com because the SECOND question lawyers ask me, after first asking about how to blog, is “how do I get the word out about my blog?” There’s a low-tech answer to that question too, but some of the lawyers who ask really want to know a lot more, including their THIRD question, “how can I track and measure who uses my blog?” And that’s where the professionals come back in.

    Laura

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