By Rob La Gatta, LexBlog Reporter
Demonstrating blogging’s potential to reshape the way businesses and consumers approach the law, the New Jersey Law Blog has localized legal news for the almost 9 million people residing in the state.
Published by Stark & Stark Attorneys at Law – who also maintain the Traumatic Brain Injury Law Blog and the Nursing Home Law Blog – the New Jersey Law Blog features contributions from more than 40 of the firm’s lawyers.
By using the blog to develop what is essentially a summary of New Jersey law, since 2004 Stark & Stark has operated a digital community where clients and the general public alike can stay aware of legal updates.
"Blogging has benefited the firm by providing our attorneys an easy and efficient medium to publish information about legal developments in their area of’practice,” says Lewis Pepperman, Co-Managing Director for Stark & Stark,’“as well as news that is’of’particular interest to their clients.”
Richard DeLuca, Director of Business Marketing for the firm, agrees. “We use the New Jersey Law Blog to showcase the depths of our various practices,” he says.
The approach is nothing new. Martindale-Hubbell’s Law Digest provides summaries of the laws and statutes in each state, compiled by a law firm selected by Martindale.
Which is essentially what Stark & Stark is doing with its New Jersey Law Blog. However, the blog allows more in-depth and current coverage of the legal happenings within the state. The blog also provides free access to the law, as opposed to Law Digests available for sale.
When accessing the blog, readers have a range of options: they can do a search for a topic related to their question (for example, by typing in “divorce”). They can click on one of the links under “Legal Updates” to find recent information on a specific issue, similar to the “topics” column in other blogs.
Or, they can scroll down the page and click on profiles of the various lawyer-bloggers employed by Stark & Stark, bringing up a brief biography of the lawyer, their interests and a list of the blog entries they wrote. As an added touch, there is also an audio introduction for each lawyer that allows readers to match a voice to the photo on the screen in front of them.
Subscribers can choose to get updates from specific lawyers or on specific topics, or can just take the blog’s main feed to receive everything that is posted.
Stark & Stark employs 105 attorneys, with over 40 contributing to the blog. That number, DeLuca says, is expected to grow as they hire new associates.
So far, DeLuca notes, the bloggers have enjoyed their venture into technology. “They like it when a reporter calls them and says, ‘I read your blog posts,’” he says, “or when in meetings with other attorneys it [comes up].”
Combining traditional written posts with audio podcasts, the blog has information available to consumers whether they’re in the office, at home or on the go. Podcasting since July of 2005, the lawyers have already uploaded more than 60 podcasts. (The integrated multimedia approach has been turning heads already, and was mentioned this morning in Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog).
“Our early adoption of blogs and podcasts, and the integration of over 75′topic-specific RSS feeds,’has also helped to’solidify the view of’Stark & Stark as a law firm fully committed to using new technology for improving communication," says Pepperman.
By producing what could be described as a live law digest, Stark & Stark is rewriting history and taking an adventurous approach to technology while modernizing legal reference.
Some might even say that the Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest has finally met its match: live, current and free state law digests.
DeLuca didn’t want to comment on that. But he doesn’t deny that blogs are and will continue to become increasingly prominent in the legal world.
“I think that it has to be,” he says when asked if he thinks the general switch to blogging is imminent. “The genie is out of the bottle.”