Tips for Starting Your Own Legal Blog
Lou Michels is a partner with McGuireWoods LLP, in Chicago. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A legal blog is a simple and inexpensive way to reach a target audience or anyone who may be surfing for particular legal content or information. If written well and used wisely, a legal blog can be a good networking and marketing tool to help you grow your practice, become involved in public service, and sharpen your writing skills. Keep the following points in mind when starting your own legal blog.
Find the time. The relatively informal nature of blogs means you do not have to spend a lot of time preparing content because you can write whenever you are able. Most practicing attorneys probably do not have time to keep a blog fully populated, so you may want to have a co-author who can help with generating content and ideas, proofreading, or the other details that go into creating a polished written product. Finding a suitable case or situation on which to comment and the proper focus to write also requires time.
Know your audience. The Internet provides a potential audience of millions, so you must assume that portions of that audience will be your clients either by accident or intention, your partners, or even a judge before whom you will appear in the next few weeks. What you write should reflect your very best written work.
Choose your content. Minimize personal life stories, but maximize expressions of your personal opinion on a particular case or legal situation. You can mix informative commentary with reviews of outrageous or eye-catching cases that are just fun to talk about. You can keep track of the hits on each of the articles to gauge what your audience is interested in reading. Expect to receive responses from your readers.
Choose your style. Make your legal commentary incisive, insightful, and humorous. Blogs should be written in an entertaining style; after all, you are trying to catch readers. But do not operate on the assumption that you can simply create an entry using a stream-of-consciousness approach with no editing and have a product you want associated with your name. Legal blogs written by identified lawyers should not provide the same potential for embarrassment as many popular social Web sites do.
Proofread. Nothing looks worse than a blog written by a language specialist (you) that has typos or grammatical errors or that is filled with non sequiturs. Before you post anything online, always re-read and proofread your blog.
So write well and try to write often. You want people to want to read what you are saying, versus the other 25,000 lawyers who are writing on the Internet. With a conscientious and creative legal blog, you can build a responsive and appreciative audience.
• Practice-enhancing ideas and discussions: The Non Billable Hour http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/nonbillable_hour
• Labor / ERISA / employment law updates: Ross’s Employment Law Blog www.lawmemo.com/blog
• Commentary on the U.S. Supreme Court: http://scotusblog.com
• Commentary on federal appeals courts: http://howappealing.law.com
• International law, war theory, and human rights perspectives: Law of War and Just War Theory Blog http://kennethandersonlawofwar.blogspot.com
• Weblogs as a Marketing Vehicle. PC # 5110535CHP11. Law Practice Management Section.
• See 101 Practice Series at www.abanet.org/yld/101
. Search for “Marketing Your Own Law Practice with a Blog.”
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