The much-anticipated Clio Cloud Conference kicks off on Monday in New Orleans. As an official media partner, LexBlog used the week leading up to the conference to shine a light on some of the speakers for the event. We were even fortunate enough to feature guest posts from Clio employees who offered unique insights on the company, and the Clio Cloud Conference. Below you’ll find links to all these features, as well as links to connect with each of the speakers.

An interview with Haben Girma, a disability rights advocate and the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School. She’ll be giving the opening keynote speech on Tuesday morning, and can follow her on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

An interview with Doug Edmonds, the Assistant Dean of IT for University of North Carolina School of Law. He will be speaking on Tuesday with Andrea Stevenson, Mirriam Seddiq, and Chris Heslinga on “Access to Justice: Technology and the Justice Gap.” You can follow him on Twitter @doug_edmonds and on Linkedin.

A guest post from Erin Hall, a Customer Support Specialist at Clio. Erin will be speaking on Monday from 3:30-4:50 in Bolden 1, on “Staying Sane and Keeping your Firm on Track.” You can find her on Twitter @eriinh and on Linkedin.

An interview with Nicole Abboud, the founder of the Generation Why Lawyer podcast and Abboud Media. Abboud will be speaking on Monday from 11-11:30 in Empire Ballroom D on “Millenials: Understanding Your New Clients and Colleagues for Law Firm Growth.” You can follow her on Twitter @nicoleabboud and on Linkedin.

A guest post from Andrew Gay, Clio’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships. He’ll be running a workshop from 1:50-3:30 on Monday in Bolden 6, for Clio Certified Consultants. You can find him on Twitter @ahlgay and Linkedin.

An interview with Andrea Evans, an attorney who runs her own intellectual property law practice. She will be speaking on Monday from 3-3:30 in Empire Ballroom A & B, on “The ‘Refrigerator’ Social Media Method: Cool, Modern & Connected.” You can contact Andrea through her website, or on Facebook or Twitter.

A guest post from Joshua Lenon, Clio’s Lawyer in Residence. He will be speaking with Joshua Browder on Monday in Empire Ballroom D on “Innovation in Legal Tech: The Chatbot Revolution.” You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaLenon or connect with him on Linkedin.

 

Twenty years ago, I terminated my firm’s Westlaw subscription and outsourced our legal research. How so? Law clerks attending law school whom I met on AOL message boards.

A clerk did the research, using free Westlaw, drafted a motion, memorandum or brief, forwarded it to my assistant to be put on a case caption and reviewed by my associate.

In a contingency fee case, a big savings of time for us. My associate could work on more valuable things. On hourly work, clients got a bill for a clerk’s time at $40 an hour while we paid them $15 an hour. Clients loved the savings and the innovation.

Without the Internet and a willingness to be different, none of that would have been possible.

Now I hear that a friend of mine, Attorney Steve Embry is doing a little bit of the same — except on a much larger scale that is likely to have a lasting effect on large law.

For years, law firms have defended mass torts the same way. Put an experienced mass torts lawyer on the case to lead strategy and execution and have legions of younger lawyers and in house staff do most of the work.

By leveraging the hourly rate, the defense of mass torts became wildly profitable for law firms, while terribly expensive for clients.

I should have known that Embry was onto something different when I first met him hanging out at legal tech and innovation conferences, even conferences dedicated to small law. You don’t see guys from large law (Frost Brown Todd) who have been defending mass tort cases for years at these conferences.

Embry was in fact out noodling on ways to be innovative in the defense of mass tort claims.

The problem with how mass torts have historically been defended is that, while the client can get great value and a great defense where there is an experienced lawyer engaged in what he or she does best, that is such things as strategy, handling and creating joint defenses, negotiations and even trial, most of the underlying work has been done by those who frankly are over qualified for what they are doing. There are better and cheaper ways to get most of the work required by mass tort cases done.

The answer, talking to Embry, is unbundling services. Unbundling legal services can be a dirty word to some bar associations and regulators, who would like to require a lawyer do all the work from beginning to end – and perhaps maintain the lawyer mononopoly while limiting services.

But Embry believes that the work in a mass tort case can be “unbundled” so that much of the commodity type work is done by alternative legal service providers at flat fees. The more creative work is best done by a seasoned lawyer.

To make this work — and get over any unbundling issue, Embry says that the lawyer must remain in charge of and responsible for all the work and that there needs to be a partnership between the lawyer and any service providers.

The lawyer and the insurance provider have to trust each other, work together and have each other’s back. This can only be done on if there is a long term relationship between the two.

Embry is now walking the talk, something most lawyers would be scared to death to do. He reached out to Elevate, an alternative legal service provider employing lawyers, engineers, technology and medical professionals to study the idea. If viable, Embry wants them to help propose it to insurance carriers.

Elevate suggested getting my friend (small world) Dan Linna, a law professor and director of LegalRnD at Michigan State University College of Law, involved. Elevate had worked with Linna and LegalRnD on other projects over the past few years and Embry was familiar with Linna through legal tech events.

Linna likes the idea – and sees it as a bit of self preservation for large law.

Law firms need to proactively work with clients to disaggregate legal matters. Why wait for clients to disaggregate matters and tell you, the law firm, what’s left for you—if they keep you around? Law firms need to demonstrate how they can provide greater value to clients. Greater value goes well beyond efficiency and lower costs. By creating a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, improving processes, getting the right people doing the right tasks, becoming data driven, and embracing technology, law firms can improve work quality and obtain better substantive outcomes.

Linna’s a bit like author, speaker and adviser, Richard Susskind, who finds it hard to convince a room full of people making a million dollars a year that they have a problem that needs correcting.

Most law firms cannot get beyond short-term thinking. They’re get stuck on the idea that improving legal-service delivery likely means less revenue in the short term. But they’re missing opportunities to become more profitable while at the same time generating greater value for clients. Going down this path strengthens relationships with existing clients and creates opportunities for law firms to differentiate themselves. It positions them to land more work and develop new ways in which to provide value for clients.

The team has already secured the agreement of one of Embry’s insurance carrier clients. The carrier is intrigued by Embry’s approach and is looking to be a case study that Linna will do so that differences in results and costs can be measured.

As he should be, Embry’s optimistic.

I think we will find that the case could be handled just as well if not better and the transactional cost less using this model.

The group recently spent a day at Frost Brown with lawyers, paralegals and other professionals to map out getting work to the right people, improving processes, using data, and implementing technology. Linna tells me that rather than being defensive and territorial about the work, as I have personally seen in large tort claims with multiple parties, the group realized the benefits of collaborating to identify opportunities to improve the value provided to clients.

Embry was concerned his firm would see this approach as a threat, the firm acknowledges it as the new reality.

The practice of law is changing. While clients don’t mind paying for bespoke work, they are no longer willing to pay top dollar for commodity work that can be done cheaper someplace else. If we don’t accept that reality and try to meet our client’s needs, we risk losing the whole ball of wax.

Embry’s firm may have less work in the short run. But Embry believes that clients will see the benefit of the model and engage him and Frost Brown for future work.

Now we just need to have Embry out blogging what he’s learning and doing along the way — soon.

We’re all familiar with Michigan State University’s athletic prowess. As a Notre Dame graduate, I’ve seen on TV any number of football losses at East Lansing. Basketball Coach Tom Izzo has kept the Spartans near the top nationally for what seems like twenty years.

Michigan State’s Law School though, which I am sure has received national recognition in the past, has not been discussed historically with the likes of Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Michigan.

No longer. The Spartans are getting known, and known in a big way for their law graduates who have harnessed the power of the Internet to learn, to network and to build a name for themselves.

Law firms and other organizations are seeking out Michigan State grads because of what they have learned on the innovation and technology front – and in a good number of cases seeking out particular law students and offering them jobs.

You got it. Students and law grads being offered jobs by companies and firms seeking them out. Not students and grads applying for jobs as is the customary way students are taught it’s done.

What happened?

The law school recognized what the rest of the country knew. The Internet was a powerful tool for learning and networking – and that everyone and their brother was using it. Why not a law school’s students?

First there was ReInvent Law (video channel in absence of site) launched by then Michigan State Law professors, Dan Katz and Renee Knake. When you put on conferences featuring legal innovators in Chicago, Palo Alto, New York City and London, folks take notice. Especially when you’re selling out large venues packed with practicing lawyers, legal tech executives, law students and law professors.

Then Dan Linna left nine years of large law practice to become Assistant Dean for Career Development and a professor at MSU Law, along with serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Without putting words in Linna’s mouth, he saw what was bubbling up at MSU Law. An opportunity to expand the curriculum to include the business of law in ways not taught before – the use of technology, innovation, project management and lean business processes to change the way legal services are delivered by major law firms.

You add guys such as Ken Grady as an adjunct professor and now a full time professor, and you have a real force. Grady, who’s known internationally, in large part through blogging and social media, for transformation in legal and has worked as general counsel, large law partner and CEO of SeyfarthLean.

About this time MSU Law students started using the Internet. Blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, About.me and Facebook, all on professional matters. These kids were bringing it.

So much so that MSU Law students starting citing my blog and sharing items I posted to Twitter. As a result, I heard them and got to know them – from 2,000 miles away. I started spreading the word, online and offline. Other influencers did the same.

These students invited me back to East Lansing to share my thoughts on blogging and social media – as well as to judge a social media contest the law school was conducting for students.

I went. What an incredible afternoon, I was welcomed and introduced by then Dean, Joan Howarth.

I discovered that social media and blogging was not only taught at the law school, but that students needed to use what they learned over a semester or more. The contest was an opportunity to share the results – not just a beauty contest with followers, but in internships gained and invitations to speak in San Francisco.

I asked Dean Howarth, “Why? How?” She said what else was she to do, stand by and watch what was happening to law grads and law students. Howarth, who had yet develop her Facebook prowess (came with her attending a day long MSU Law social media bootcamp), empowered change and the use of social media – as a gift to the law school and its students – whether she knew it or not.

I was at a legal technology meetup earlier this year when a lawyer heard me talking about Michigan State’s tech, innovation and social media bent. He said that his firm, a large one, looks for Michigan State grads because of exactly that.

More powerful than MSU Law’s reputation, or maybe the cause of its reputation, is its students’ use of social media itself.

Pat Ellis, who graduated two or three years ago, landed a job on graduation at the second largest law firm in Detroit, in part because of his blogging and social media use.

Ellis left within two years to accept another opportunity. Someone suggested to him on Twitter that he apply for a position with the general counsel’s office at General Motors. He got the job.

I met Ellis on Twitter, as then, @spartylegal, and via his blogging. I had the pleasure of joining him in a presentation to MSU Law students, with Dean Howarth and faculty attending.

Ellis advised students that what they thought was important no longer was. A tier one law school, top grades and law review were no longer what separated you from others. The Internet enabled students to blog, with posts seen in a day by a law professor across the country, versus never for a law review article. Social media democratized things for the little guy. Opportunities awaited, per Ellis.

Ellis is not alone.

Irene Mo, a recent MSU Law graduate took innovation classes, participated in blogging and social media bootcamps at the school and served as an innovation assistant for the school’s LegalRnD program.

She’s now an ABA Innovation Fellow developing tools to reduce privacy and data security risks for low-income people. An associate position at a leading Chicago privacy and security law firm awaits – this based on MO’s Twitter exchanges with the managing partner.

Samir Patel came to MSU Law planning to be a sports agent – and why not, with the Spartan’s athletic prowess. But he attended a MSU Law social media bootcamp.

One thing led to another and Patel was clerking for a leading blockchain law firm in London because of identifying a niche he could get after with Twitter and blogging – the use of blockchain in professional athletes’ contracts. Patel didn’t ask for the clerkship, the firm asked him on Twitter.

Then, it turned out that someone Patel was interacting with on Twitter was a practice group lead at Holland & Knight. Patel, who just graduated, is joining Holland & Knight in Miami as a result.

Linna has brought real structure to it all launching, two years ago, LegalRnD, MSU Law’s Center for Legal Services Innovation.

LegalRnD is dedicated to improving legal-service delivery and access across the legal industry. It accomplishes this through research and development of efficient, high-quality legal-service delivery tools and systems — heavily relying on the net and social media/blogging for learning and networking.

LegalRnD brings together professionals from a broad range of disciplines. Students are trained in established business concepts and study them with partners, including: legal aid organizations, solo practitioners, corporate legal departments, law firms, courts, and entire justice systems.

Its curriculam, harnessing the powers of networking through the net via blogging and social media, covers:

  • Artificial intelligence & law
  • Delivering legal services, the new landscape
  • Quantitative analysis for lawyers
  • Information privacy and security
  • Litigation data and process
  • Entrepreneurial lawyering

Young people choose law schools for a whole lot of reasons. Usually based on the school’s name and rank.

If I am looking to understand what’s possible, achieve extraordinary things and have employers ask me if I want to work for them in areas of interest to me — all because I’ve learned to used the Internet to learn, network and build a name I’m looking for a law school which can deliver on that front.

MSU Law ranks number one in that poll.

In the last week I’ve had exchanges with a couple law schools that made me wonder how serious law schools take professional development of their students.

I’m basing this on my belief that a law student’s understanding of how to blog and use social media to build a name and network is serious stuff. As they used to say, “as serious as a heart attack.”

In one case, a law school was appproached a year ago by one of the their law students suggesting the school hold a social media bootcamp for law students. The student who had good success using the net for learning, networking and building a name wanted to learn more — and wanted to help his fellow students.

The student, who would organize it, was told that things were awfully busy at the school and maybe it could be discussed in the spring. Nothing happened.

I approached the school earlier this year, was told the idea sounded good. When I heard nothing, I emailed back and like the student last year, was told things were awfully busy this fall, let’s look at the spring.

I can take the hint that we don’t value helping our students, professionally. Or, just as bad, we don’t take seriously learning how we can better help our students, professionally — we’re going to do what we have always done.

The second exchange, and actually much more positive, came when it was explained to me that the law school is pushing social media but is meeting resistence with students who question its value.

The problem may come when you begin by pairing up students and asking each student to look at the problems that may be presented by their follow students Internet identity. The focus rather than what’s great and what can be done is “let’s look at where you can get in trouble.” I can imagine skiing lessons starting with how you are likely to tear your ACL.

Rather than look at trouble, why not begin with the positives and tell students that there probably isn’t a lawyer a year, out of the million of them, who gets into trouble, professionally through the use of social media and blogging. And that there are lawyers coast to coast who are building careers and practices from social media.

Tell law students where they can go by using social media now. Tell them of Pat Ellis, three years out of law school, who is now reporting to the General Motors GC — because of blogging and using Twitter while in law school.

Every student has a networking machine in their pocket. Introvert or extrovert, I bet 99% of your incoming 1L’s use Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook for networking with friends and relatives. They just need a little guidance as to using this machine for learning, networking and building a name.

If you, as a law school, don’t know how it’s done, you just have to care enough to find out how — and to find out today. Otherwise what are you going to tell your students struggling to get a job, we’ll start trying to help you next Spring or the Spring after.

People today communicate via social media. It’s where they get their news, information and damn near everything else. It’s where people build relationships – over two billion people use Facebook.

At least as much time, if not more, should be put into teaching students how to use the net to build a name and to network than into getting firms into the law school for interviews, clerking opportunities and postings for postitions students are supposed to send off a resume. Knowing how to use the Internet is much more likely to help students — and unquestionably, more students.

The second exchange was much more positive as I am headed out to that law school next week. ;) Like with other law schools, I’m getting calls from out the blue to visit and talk with the students. I’m no savior, the schools need to have programs teaching the stuff and I’ll only vist a dozen schools a year.

I’m just afraid there are many law schools who are not taking professional development seriously.

As reported by the ABA Journal’s Debra Cassens Weiss, another large law firm is laying off a number of administrative staffers as it changes its staffing model.

Apparently this is nothing new as a survey (PDF) by law firm consultant, Altman Weil found that forty-eight percent of law firm leaders are cutting staff to increase profits.

Taking the firms at their word, layoffs are often coming from increased efficiencies and modernization. I’m sure in other cases staff layoffs are coming for exactly the opposite reason – a lack of efficiency, tech advancements and innovation.

In any case, I wonder what companies selling services and products are doing to help law firms on the cost front.

After all, these companies should have declining costs with innovation and efficiencies, in large part driven by their own technology. As a result, their costs of production and their own staff needs may be declining.

By turning the design and development into a “software” driven system (SAAS), we have been able to decrease production time on “sites” to about twenty percent of what many of them used to be. This also reduces staff time that used to be tied up in more project management.

As a result, we have reduced costs significantly, and in turn prices. We are now working on some things to further automate what we do, not to reduce the quality of what we deliver, but to deliver better solutions to customers in ways that they expect it and want it.

It’s not always easy to “right size” pricing when it means decreasing prices, but it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also sound business. It turns out that many customers want levels of “concierge” service that command higher pricing.

For law firms, I’d be looking at how innovate your service and solution providers are. What are they doing with technology to bring innovation and efficiencies? Is the technology they are using today and the people working on it likely to drive greater value, while at the same time lower prices — or at least right sized pricing for what you want and need?

Times are a changing dramatically. Technology and innovation doesn’t wait for anyone. Law firms are going to see continued cuts because of multiple factors — some driven internally by innovation and some driven externally by their clients and the way people use lawyers.

Service and solution providers should feel the same pressure as law firms – the answer is innovation to bring better services and solutions at reduced costs.

Are you focused on the easy numbers (clicks, views, likes) when it comes to Internet marketing?

Rather than focusing on something easy, widely respected marketer, author and speaker, Seth Godin suggests that you ask:

What is it that you hope to accomplish? Not what you hope to measure as a result of this social media strategy/launch, but to actually change, create or build?

Focus on the real goal – where do you want to be at at the end of the day – not on numbers.

An easy but inaccurate measurement will only distract you. It might be easy to calibrate, arbitrary and do-able, but is that the purpose of your work?

I know that there’s a long history of a certain metric being a stand-in for what you really want, but perhaps that metric, even though it’s tried, might not be true. Perhaps those clicks, views, likes and groups are only there because they’re easy, not relevant.

Law firm business development and marketing will always be measured by growth in business.

  • What business have we retained from existing clients?
  • What new business have we realized from existing clients?
  • What business have we realized from new clients?
  • What business have we gleaned from new industries or areas of law we have not worked in before but developed a strategic plan to get after?

These goals can be and are measured by the bottom line, revenue. Lawyers developing business do not have a hard time knowing where their business is coming from.

Rightfully so, law firms and lawyers use blogs and other social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These mediums, used effectively, build relationships and build a name, the two linchpins of business development in law.

However, lawyers and law firms take the easy way out in measuring success. They look at analytics – subscribers, web traffic, followers, connections, likes and comments.

Analytics are the golden calf worshipped by marketers and lawyers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on websites and other Internet marketing. It’s as if their budgets and jobs depend on these numbers.

Every law firm claims to be different, while all focused on the same metrics. From Seth:

“System innovations almost always involve rejecting the standard metrics as a first step in making a difference. When you measure the same metrics, you’re likely to create the same outcomes. But if you can see past the metrics to the results, it’s possible to change the status quo.”

No question there are lawyers and a few law firms measuring the difficult — and the real goal, but sadly too many measure the easy numbers.

Wall Street Journal legal correspondent, Ashby Jones (@jonesashby), announced last week that the WSJ’s “Law Blog” launched in 2006 and after 20,000 posts was shutting its doors effective immediately.

Law Blog’s closure doesn’t signal much when it comes to law firm law blogs. If anything, it suggests law blogs are stronger today.

No question, the WSJ’s jumping on the law blog bandwagon back in 2006 added credibility to the legal blogosphere. Jones is right,

It had a simple name but a novel approach to legal news in the pre-Twitter era: a one-stop place for breaking news, quick and clear analysis and lively takes on the most compelling stories, trends and personalities shaping the profession.

Law Blog was the first of its kind at the WSJ and was an immediate hit, attracting readers from all corners of the legal world. Its success helped usher in a sort of Golden Age for blogs at WSJ and encourage the growth of a wider, legal blogosphere.

Some in the legal community saw the news of shuttering Law Blog as a sign that law blogs were dying. Like we haven’t read the death of blogs headline any number of times over the years.

Looking at what WSJ is doing though is a sign that just the opposite is true. It demonstrates the strength, not the weakness of legal blogging.

WSJ which makes its money by selling subscriptions to content behind paywalls, is moving all legal content penned by Ashby Jones and other legal reporters on the Law Blog onto the main Journal site — and available only if you pay.

Robert Ambrogi (@bobmbrogi), a veteran journalist who headed a couple legal newspapers and now, blogger, responded, elsewhere on Facebook, to the theory that shuttering Law Blog was a sign law blogs were on the decline.

This isn’t about blogs. It’s about a news organization trying to funnel its readership towards specific products. The problem for the WSJ was that these blogs were diverting readers from the main content pages. If anything, that suggests the strength of the blogs, not the weakness of blogging.

A business development head in large law was right with Ambrogi that we’re comparing apples and oranges. The WSJ was restricting access to subscription-only content, while law firms don’t directly derive revenue from their legal blogs.

Lest there be any doubt, the 20k+ blog posts that Ashby Jones said would continue to be available at their original URL’s are already behind a paywall. Even Jones’ post that Law Blog is behind the paywall.

Should a law student blog now? Yes, yes & yes, writes veteran law blogger and successful niche practice solo lawyer, Carolyn Elefant.

In the big picture, something law students may not appreciate today, prosperity and a sense of direction may be the best reasons to blog.

A blog is your precedent; a picture of you as a law student, at a place in time where your profession lies in front of you and where you’re still excited and eager — maybe naive or at least, not yet jaded. Blogs capture the insight and curiosity and passion and yes, stupidity of the soon-to-be-lawyer and serve as a True North that you can look back on and use to re-orient yourself if you ever lose your way as a lawyer.

Elefant also offers five practical reasons to blog, whether you’re looking to hang out your shingle or find employment in a law firm.

  1. Blogging on a regular basis (at least twice a week for the first six months) about almost any law related topic shows commitment to the profession, interest and most of all initiative. Those traits will catapult you to the front of the line when it comes time for interviews or referrals from colleagues.
  2. A blog will open doors by offering an online introduction to lawyers in distant communities where you hope to wind up or to role models whom you’d like to emulate or meet.
  3. Blogging will make you money while in school and on graduation. Law schools don’t necessarily prepare you to get hired as a clerk or on graduation. Instead of waiting passively for your law school to help you find a job, put yourself out there with your blog and you may find lawyers approaching you, asking you to take on short research projects or help them research blog posts.
  4. Blogging improves your analytical and writing skills. Since readers have short attention spans and many RSS readers only pick up the first sentence of what you write, blogs require you to get right to the point with a seductive headline, strong lead and cogent analysis.
  5. A blog can serve as the centerpiece of a broader presence on the web by disciplining you to produce content that you can repurpose in multiple sites. You can include your blog along with other briefs and papers you’ve written in an online portfolio, a concept recently recommended in the New York Times for job seekers.

New York Attorney and Legal Tech Evangelist at MyCase, Nicole Black wholeheartedly agrees with Elefant.

Law students should consider blogging, and more broadly, should also use social media to establish a professional presence during their law school years. Interacting strategically online is a great way to jumpstart your legal career and make connections that can last a lifetime.

Black, who’s been blogging for twelve years, is right there with Elefant on the benefits of blogging as a law student.

  1. Demonstrate your substantive knowledge.
  2. Showcase your writing and analytical skills.
  3. Convince prospective employers that you are on top of changes in your chosen practice areas or career path of choice.

Ignore the naysayers and scare tactics, says Black.

Don’t let the fact that the internet is forever deter you from taking advantage of the opportunities that social media and blogging offer.

These guys offer some advice on where to start blogging as a law student.

From Black:

  1. Determine what your post-law school objectives are. Identify a niche, practice area, or career goal that interests you and make it yours. Learn everything you can about it.
  2. Subscribe to blogs about your chosen focus and identify the influencers in that space, whether it’s a specific area of law practice or another career path in a different field.
  3. Connect with those people online and learn from them. Read their articles, blog posts, and social media posts and interact with them online.

And from Elefant:

  1. To get the most mileage out of your blog in the legal community, you need to blog about legal or law related issues. Sounds obvious, but I have students blog about their life as a law student or other random matterss
  2. I’d avoid blogging about topics obviously aimed at prospective clients – stuff like “Why You Should Incorporate Your Business,” or “Ten Ways to Avoid Liability When You Fire An Employee.” A law student blogger would have to include so many disclaimers as part of these posts that they wouldn’t have much value.

I know Niki and Carolyn as friends and as professionals. They are as passionate as I am, if not more, about helping law students use the Internet for learning, networking and getting a job. Follow their advice over the advice of law school administrators and professors who do not blog and use social media.

Remember, as a law student, Lexblog’s platform is free to you as part of the Law School Blog Network. Take advantage of it.

You don’t publicize the launch of a law blog the way you may announce other law firm news.

Beginning a law blog is akin to beginning to network offline by going out and engaging your target audience to build a name and nurture relationships. You are just doing your networking on the Internet with a blog.

Imagine sending out a press release that a lawyer or group of lawyers in your firm were going to start networking to get work. You know, going to chamber of commerce and industry events.

We’re not sure if they’ll be any good at networking. We’re not sure they’ll continue the effort. But golly, they’re going to give it a whirl. You’d look like a darn fool.

That’s pretty close to what law firms are doing when they send out press releases announcing the launch of a blog.

And if press releases on blogs aren’t bad enough, the press releases often boast of the blog being a “go-to” or definitive resource on a subject.

Like a blog with three or four posts on anything is the definitive resource.

Great law blogs generating significant business are usually not “go-to” resources. Leave that to major publishers whose job it is to publish all the time, a blog is for networking and name recognition.

Emails to select clients are okay, but I’d wait three to six months to send them. Sophisticated clients will wonder if you’ll keep the blog up if you send them in the beginning.

When you announce the blog to these clients, let them know that you’re publishing the blog for them, not for the firm. That we know clients pay a fair amount in fees so we feel we have an obligation to share our insight on matters relevant to them that come across our desk.

Ask for their feedback on the blog. Is it helpful? What could we be doing better? Be real – let them know that you’re not doing the blog to get web traffic, we’re doing it to learn, grow our network and help you.

Don’t assume that because you’ve historically publicized blogs and that other law firms do so, that you should do so.

Ask your marcom and public relationships professionals if they have blogged (not written articles) to build their own name and relationships.

Have they engaged other bloggers, reporters, association leaders, industry leaders, conference coordinators and heads of organizations through blogging? Do they know that you can really turn these folks off by publicizing your blog? That your judgement may be called into question – not good for a business where good judgment means everything.

Blogging is a skill and an art that is picked up in time. Lawyers are not born great bloggers, and it shows when they begin blogging.

Why anyone would want to announce to the world to look at us when we aren’t very good at this, but we’ll get better, is beyond me. Especially in the case of lawyers and a law firm where clients would like to think their lawyers know what they are doing.

Again don’t size up your blogging by what you think looks good – know it’s good, as a blogger. Blog posts are not articles nor legal “memorandum-like.”

Blog posts are usually brief, concise, scannable, engaging via links to third party publications and conversational in tone, among other things. This is an acquired style.

Your blog will get picked up organically in the beginning and there are some good ways to market your blog to help it gain traction that do not include publicizing the blog early on.

I’ll be in San Francisco this Monday through Wednesday attending ALM’s Legalweek West (f/k/a LegalTech Show) and meeting with LexBlog publishers.

Legalweek actually runs only two days, Monday and Tuesday. The show is a smaller version of ALM’s LegalTech Show in New York City. And though legal tech is the focus, there are educational tracks covering diversity, operations and small firm management.

ALM expects to have 1,200 attendees, 100+ speakers and 40+ exhibiters.

Though not the draw of New York’s show, I’ve been attending and covering the show more years than not. It’s a good opportunity to catch up with legal tech entrepreneurs/leaders and to stay abreast of what’s going on at various companies.

I also enjoy meeting some of the folks from ALM. There has been a ton of turnover in recent years, yet ALM remains a leader in legal publishing.

It’s my belief that bloggers and legal mainstream reporters ought to have a good working relationship. Bloggers have niche expertise and certain information reporters do not. I’ve been doing my best to meet ALM’s reporters by sharing their stories on Twitter. I look forward to meeting a few of the reporters in person.

Ideally I’d like to get ALM to recognize the potential in getting legal tech companies to blog. For news, insight and for getting out the message of companies, with public relations not working as well as it used to. Maybe even do a social media/blogging workshop for exhibitors and sponsors.

I’m meeting some LexBlog lawyer and law firm publishers at the show and others at their offices in San Francisco. If you’d like to to get together, let me know. You can reach me via email, Facebook or Twitter.