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Lawyer By Day, Blogger By Night—Fans or Future Clients?

Lawyers are heroes in their own right, fending off threats to their clients while managing practices and raising families all at the same time. But like so many other superheroes — Spiderman, Batman, and the X-Men mutants to name a few — lawyers often neglect their own best interests by neglecting to manage their online personas. Blogging is a great way for a lawyer to get his or her name out there, show off expertise and instill confidence in existing and potential clients, with the added benefit of making connections with other lawyer-bloggers who could potentially send great client leads.

For many attorneys, getting started as a new blogger can be discouraging because of the commitment it requires. You can’t just “set it and forget it,” as the saying goes, because once you have a blog, you must continue to feed it, or your blog will never get a following of dedicated readers. Establishing a consistent publishing schedule is strongly suggested, and admittedly, when you have a lot on your plate already, writing a blog at the end of a long day might be the last thing you want to do.

So if you decide to start a blog, you need to commit to it and make it a priority—and that’s not for everyone. However, think of the long term benefits, and remember that there’s some truth to the old joke that “blog” actually stands for “better listings on Google.” Search engines love fresh content, and a blog is a great way to provide it. If maintaining a blog means you’ll have more potential clients find you on Google, then that alone would make your efforts worthwhile. Apart from better Google rankings, increasing evidence indicates that regular blogging is becoming more important for career and business development. For example, a recent study, the Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey, ranks blogging as the fourth most important activity for helping in-house counsel vet and research outside counsel for potential hire.

If you’re still thinking “There’s no way I have time to blog,” there are ways to minimize the time commitment. Many bloggers address this issue by joining forces on a group blog. If these attorney bloggers all work for the same firm, it can lift both the individual bloggers’ and the firm’s profiles—potential clients, other legal bloggers, and even the mainstream media will come to view the blog as an expert resource, which brings publicity and business to the firm while boosting the credibility of each individual blogger. The downside of the group blog is that it often lacks the opinionated edge of a personal blog. A personal blog offers a unique perspective or “voice” that makes the blogging lawyer more personable and approachable, which can help him or her acquire clients.

Whether you decide to start a group blog or an individual blog, here are five quick tips to help you get the most from your blogging efforts:

  1. Remember how you wrote before law school. Avoid legalese!
  2. Be conversational.
  3. Write on issues where you passion is apparent. If it feels too challenging, you’re probably writing about the wrong topic.
  4. Spend the most time on your titles and graphics. They are often what visitors see first and can compel them to dive deeper into your blog post.
  5. Encourage engagement and comments. Cite other blogs and bloggers.
  6. Have fun with it! (OK. Six tips. But this last tip is a no-brainer!)

If you still doubt the influence of blogs, Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy points out an interesting new phenomenon:

On August 19th, Justice Kennedy gave an address that included an interesting passing remark about the role of blogs. Justice Kennedy was talking about how law review case comments generally come out too late to be of use to the Court (especially in the context of deciding whether to grant certiorari in a case). As a result, when Justice Kennedy asks his clerks to look to see what the law reviews have said about a particular case, there isn’t any commentary yet. Justice Kennedy adds: “I’ve found, what my clerks do now, when they have interesting cases — They read blogs.”

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