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Personal injury law blogs : Running feeds of disaster

There are many excellent blogs published by personal injury lawyers. But all too many plaintiff’s lawyers think blogging is all about posting a litany of accidents that resulted in horrific injuries.

Such lawyers, or people the lawyers hire, scour newspaper feeds for accident headlines. They paraphrase the story for an injury law blog post linking words such as ‘accident’ or ‘wrongful death’ to the lawyer’s website.

Seattle plaintiff’s trial lawyer and past President of the Washington State Association for Justice, Karen Koehler, calls these blogs a “Running feed of disaster.”

The worst are the headline grabbers, I call them the ‘tragic headline grabbers. They just grab the tragic headlines and post them one after the other after the other. It’s like a running feed of disaster.

Koehler points out how short sighted this for good lawyers.

You’re creating a brand and so, if you’re a tragic headline grabber, that’s your brand, and you’re going to be lumped in with all the other tragic headline grabbers. You will be indistinguishable. People don’t put enough thought into ‘What kind of brand am I building? What kind of reputation do I want to have?

And for a personal injury lawyer your reputation is your most precious asset.

Last week I received a request to join my LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group from from a Web design professional. She tells me “I write two legal blogs: washingtoninjuryattorneyblog.com and seattlecaraccidentlawyerblog.com.”

Wondering how a Web design person writes a law blog I checked the blogs out.

The blog posts I saw were largely a ‘headline watch, paraphrase a news story, and link words in the blog post to the law firm’s website or other blogs.’

Look at one post from March 6. Seven words or phrases in the post link to the law firm website or other blogs published by the law firm.

  • Vehicular Homicide
  • Winthrop-area car accident
  • Shangrow was killed on July 31
  • Vehicular Homicide, RCW 46.61.52
  • RCW 46.61.667
  • The Farber Law Group
  • Wrongful death lawsuits

Seven links only if you exclude the four links to related blog posts by the law firm linked from this one blog post and the obligatory four more links to the firm’s website in the shout out in the blog post to ‘Contact The Farber Law Group’ or ‘attorney@hgfarber.com’ at our ‘Seattle’ or ‘Bellevue’ offices.

That’s 15 links to the law firm’s website or blogs in one post. To me, that shouts “I’m going for SEO, who cares about respect for injury victims, who cares about our reputation as a law firm, and who cares about the declining reputation of lawyers.” I don’t know how you call it writing a blog.

The crazy part is that type of blogging doesn’t perform as well in search as true blogging by plaintiff’s lawyers. And it certainly will not bring in the work good plaintiffs’ lawyers bring in via their word of mouth reputation, a reputation enhanced by good blogging.

I was a plaintiff’s trial lawyer for seventeen years. I saw the advent of the Internet as the great equalizer for good lawyers. In the last few years of my practice, I used the Internet to help people by sharing insight and information. Work via the Internet came by word of mouth from people who trusted me.

When I started LexBlog, I saw one of my goals as helping people by helping good lawyers enhance their reputation as a trusted and reliable authority. I didn’t see the running feeds of disaster in the offing.

Running feeds of disaster on multiple fronts. A disaster to a lawyer’s reputation. A disaster in taste in using accident victims for your pecuniary gain. And a disaster to the reputation of our legal profession.

  • http://bc-injury-law.com/blog/ Erik Magraken

    Well said Kevin.

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

    Thanks Erik. Your blog is a good example of a blog done well by a personal injury lawyer. I trust that blogging in that fashion has served you well.
    As for comment on Twitter thanking me for calling these guys out, I was thinking it would be nice to have a blog called ‘feeds of disaster’ listing blogs that primarily scrape accident news stories.

  • Eric T.

    Kevin:
    This stuff is going on right now with respect to the horrible bus accident in the Bronx yesterday that killed 14.
    Go ahead and Google “Bronx Bus Accident Lawyer” and you can see some of the “blog” posts now popping up that regurgitate the story and then end with a call to action (“If you or someone you know….”)

  • http://bc-injury-law.com/blog/ Erik Magraken

    Thanks for the compliment Kevin. My blog has indeed treated me well.
    Few have kept a more ‘above the belt’ personal injury blog than Eric Turkewitz (see his comment above and for those who have not visited his blog do so).
    http://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/
    He has become the one of the most well known US personal injury blogger’s and has never resorted to bottom-feeding techniques. Those new to the legal blogging world would do well to learn from the Turk.
    Yours truly,
    Erik

  • http://www.lawyernc.com Bill

    Well said. 100% agree.

  • Andrew

    Excellent post, I agree completely that posting only these headlines diminishes the lawyers and firms who post them. I saw the link to this post via Twitter, right next to a perfect example of what you are talking about. An attorney PI Blog tweeted a headline about a child killed in a highway accident. I know the lawyer posting the headline, I’ve worked with him on multiple cases. He is a terrific attorney. You wouldn’t know it from his blog posts, however.

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

    Andrew, my guess is that the lawyer whose injury blog tweeted a headline about a child killed in an accident doesn’t know what someone is doing on their behalf. That, or the lawyer has not a clue how the Internet is used by good lawyers to enhance relationships and their word of mouth reputation.

  • http://www.millerandzois.com Ron Miller

    Kevin, I think I’ve commented about this same topic on here a few years ago back during that “some guy somewhere who got mad about be called out about his junk blogs” fiasco. Ultimately, I think these blogs are out there because they have some success with a paradigm that most of us don’t like.
    I think the solution is on the way. Google and other search engines are continuing to make progress towards doing a better job of rewarding only quality content. I think/hope that this