General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Division
Spring 2003 vol. 9 Number 3
"Blog"-It's Not Just a Four-letter Word
By Carolyn Elefant
Say hello to the "blog"-the hottest new tool on the Internet. "Blog" (an abbreviation of "Web log") is a different kind of Web site that offers special benefits to solos and small firm practitioners.
Blogs (called "blawgs" when they're law-related) are unique in three ways:
o Although blogs look like a regular Web site, they are easier to update, which ensures that the content is more timely.
o Most blog software supports "RSS Feed," a nifty tool that enables users to read headlines of newly posted articles. (Headlines from more that 50 blawgs are available at the user-friendly Daily Whirl at www.dailywhirl.com.) This means subscribers don't need to visit 50 sites repeatedly to keep current.
o Many blogs allow users to instantaneously post comments to the site, offering the element of interactivity.
The blog is not a listserv, which transmits information directly to a subscriber's e-mail box. Listserv users, particularly those on high-volume or multiple listservs, need to vigorously manage their e-mail to keep from being overwhelmed with new messages, and develop a system for saving and storing messages. Blogs, by contrast, have built-in archives that can be searched (at the very least by date) so users can always find an important posting.
Already, there are many blawgs on topics ranging from federal appellate case law to ERISA (www.benefitscounsel.com/benefitsblog/) to Texas family law (www.texfamlawblawg. com/).
Visit www.blawg.org to find a topical listing of law-related blogs.
It can be even more useful to create your own blog, where you can show off your expertise and gain a national reputation. The drawback is that it requires a lot of time to update the site and include value-added analysis. No time? You can set up a "bare bones" blog with just a firm name and contact information, posting items of interest weekly or monthly-an online client newsletter without the circulation costs.
The cost of a blog is minimal. The easiest and cheapest way to experiment with your own site is through Blogger (www. blogspot.com), a hosting service that makes starting a blog as easy as ordering a book online. It's not for professionals, but once you master it you can move on to more sophisticated software.
Carolyn Elefant has an energy regulatory and litigation practice in Washington D.C. She is also the creator of www.myshingle.com, a blog for solos and small firm lawyers.