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American law bloggers could stand to be more social

Canada Law BlogsI was struck by Steve Matthews comment in an interview here today that one big difference between US and Canadian law bloggers is that Canadians are more social.

One aspect Canadian law bloggers do very well is the social side of blogging. We actively read and link to each other’s blogs. There are many great conversations, debates, and generally a strong web-community being developed.

It could be the fact that we’re smaller, but I also give a lot of credit to Slaw.ca, our Canadian legal blogging co-op. Simon Fodden has done a great job of expanding both the range of participants and the topics we’re discussing. There’s also a core group of us that work hard at welcoming & acknowledging new Canadian legal blogs. I think that’s important.

Steve’s point is well taken. Though there are many exceptions, lawyers in the States are slow to link to other lawyers. They’re not apt to welcome with open arms another lawyer blogging in the same area of law with a post introducing them to the blog community. There’s not many great conversations between blogs.

I think there’s some of the competitive thing going on. Americans love to compete and stay a leg ahead of others. But there may be a social side to this as well. We’re not as laid back as folks from countries.

Traveling to Canada, at least to Montreal and Vancouver, where I’ve been in the last year, I find people to be more social, more relaxed, more apt to entertain than in the States. It seems a lot like Europe that way. I’m always saying driving up to Vancouver from Seattle is like driving to Europe.

Look at the ABA TechShow. Dominic Jarr (Montreal) and Jean-Francois De Rico (Quebec City) come down from Quebec. Everyone wants to go out to cocktails and dinner with them. Speakers hosted tables at various restaurants and theirs had a waiting list. Other speaker tables attracted 1 or 2 people. And who else has a Wine and Information Management Blog than Dominic?

Wild thing is that, despite what lawyers may think, being more social is what brings more traffic to your blog. Linking out to other blogs in your niche, posting comments on other’s blogs (rarely done by American lawyers), and writing about other lawyers gets people’s attention. And attention is what gets subscribers. And subscribers gets more people talking about you and your blog content on and offline.

Maybe I’m reading too much into things, but I think Steve’s onto something.

  • http://www.whataboutclients.com/archives/2008/04/youll_get_no_ar.html What About Clients?

    You’ll get no argument from WAC?

    The “social” side of the blogosphere. Whether it’s linking to other blogs, or actually talking by phone or in person to other blogging humans, What About Clients? thinks that the better overtures, productivity and just plain fun of human interaction…

  • Neil J. Squillante

    It’s true. In the early days, legal bloggers linked early and often, but nowadays blogs like ours and yours are the exception rather than the rule. Even Blawg Review has trouble rounding up links these days. We just hosted one and poured our heart and soul into it (including hiring a graphic designer to create an animated GIF) and got very few links — zero from fellow legal technology blogs.
    I don’t have an explanation as to why most legal bloggers don’t link to one another, but I do know why most don’t use photos and other graphics. They don’t know how.
    A corollary could very well explain your observations. While most bloggers understand the mechanics of adding links, they may not have a full appreciation of blogging etiquette. For example, bloggers often summarize something we’ve published without a link to our blog.
    It may just be a case of needing more training, and no one is better situated to train all these bloggers than you guy’s. Perhaps you should host a Webinar. (Please pardon any typos as I’m posting from a phone.)

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    You make a good point. Probably 5 times in the past year, a site has referred to my blog without a link and probably about 4 times that blog has been a legal blog. And since about 90% of the sites that link to our blog are NOT legal, you are certainly on to something here. But, every time this happened, I would send an email and ask them to link and everytime they did, as though they had not known any better in the first place. I do think a lot of this is due to lawyers just not understanding the blogosphere.

  • http://www.rushonbusiness.com Rush Nigut

    One notable exception to U.S. lawyers not linking to each other is in the area of employment law. I find there are several lawyers in that practice area who consistently link to each other and develop great conversations going back and forth. Jon Hyman, Michael Moore, Mark Toth, Daniel Schwartz and others quickly come to mind.
    One of the reasons lawyers may not link to each other consistently is a lack of time. It takes time find good links and add to the conversation. Time is the reason I hear most for why lawyers won’t blog in the first place. It’s only natural that lawyers who blog also have their own time constraints. Plus, when the blog works your practice gets busier and busier which cuts down on the amount of time you have to blog.

  • http://www.whataboutclients.com/archives/2008/04/youll_get_no_ar_1.html What About Clients?

    You’ll get no argument from WAC?

    The “social” side of the blogosphere. Whether it’s linking to other blogs, or actually talking by phone or in person to other blogging humans, What About Clients? thinks that the better overtures, productivity and just plain fun of being alive…

  • http://aboveandbeyondkm.blogspot.com Mary Abraham

    As a neophyte blogger (or blawger), I must admit that I’ve been craving exactly the kind of conversation that you describe happens among Canadian bloggers. I’m not sure I’d put the absence of such conversation in the US down to competition. If my limited experience is any guide, it’s more about lack of exposure, time constraints and technology puzzles.
    With respect to lack of exposure, I witnessed this week the extraordinary boost a blog can get when it receives a recommendation in Joy London’s excited utterances (http://excitedutterances.blogspot.com). The latest issue came out on April 10 and my readership shot through the roof. And along with that readership came comments and citations. Suddenly, we’re in conversation. Thank you, Joy!
    As for time constraints, the recent comments and citations had me at my computer responding until 2am this morning. And it takes a lot of time to stay on top of the new blog entries from other bloggers. I love it, but I’m clearly going to have to make more time for this.
    On the technology front, I’m using blogger.com and am having trouble with trackbacks. There may be others who are similarly situated.
    In any event, let’s hope that enough US blawggers read your post and make more time for the conversation that you and your colleagues are so clearly enjoying.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin OKeefe

    Thanks for all your comments guys. It’s clear from blog posts referencing this post and your comments here, that we’ve struck a nerve on this one.
    I’ll see what I can do to keep the discussion going that blogging lawyers have much to gain from being more social. Please do the same.

  • http://blog.simplejustice.us/2008/04/12/hey-sailor-wanna-date.aspx Simple Justice

    Hey Sailor, Wanna Date?

    Ah, the number of times I heard a woman of the evening ask this question while walking along East 23rd Street on a balmy spring evening back when I was in law school.