It’s not a matter of whether law firms will need to market their knowledge and use of AI (artificial intelligence), it’s a matter of when. The smart law firms are going to start now.

I walked out of last week’s Legal Marketing Association Annual Meeting (LMA) seeing the single biggest marketing opportunity for law firms as demonstrating a keen knowledge of AI and how AI is going to change the delivery of legal services.

I’ve been to LMA meetings for almost twenty years and have never even heard AI mentioned. AI and machine learning may have been discussed in relation to e-discovery, but this year there were multiple sessions with legal technology and software executives and entrepreneurs presenting on AI and its implications for law firms.

Why now? Because the tools that consumers of legal services expect law firms to use will bring fundamental change to the traditional business model of law firms, that being to charge solely by the hour.

Businesses and consumers are not going to tolerate law firms charging for hours spent on tasks and projects which can be automated by software and AI.

The age of AI may not fully be upon law firms, but the consensus at LMA was pretty close to what Richard Susskind, author, speaker and advisor on the future of legal services, had to say at this year’s British Legal Technology Forum:

People are probably over-estimating what AI can do in the near term, but unfortunately [they] are underestimating what its impact is going to be long term in the industry.

AI is close enough along, that speaking at LMA, Mark Greene, a 30 year veteran in the development and deployment of business and marketing strategies, warned new associates that they should become knowledgeable on new tools and AI so as to remain valuable to a their law firm. Going the traditional partner track is going to be much riskier, per Greene.

Former big law attorney, now Professor of law and Director of LegalRND at Michigan State University, Daniel Linna commented for this post on Facebook about the growing efficiencies that software and tools are already bringing to the law, saying it’s a mistake to ignore expert systems (or some might call them bots–think Turbo Tax for law).

The legal industry across the board could significantly increase productivity (double?) and also quality with better knowledge management and expert systems. Look at what Illinois Legal Aid Online and Michigan Help Online can do with expert systems and document automation.

Many law firms are building expert systems, like Foley FCPA, Akerman data breach navigator, Denton’s for European financial regulations, NetApp & ThinkSmart NDA automation. Lots of low hanging fruit.

AI folks say lots in legal cannot be automated because legal work is unstructured. Well, let’s start structuring it. We need more best practices and standards. Why do lawyers, even in the same firm, do the same task 10 different ways?

One way for law firms to market their knowledge of AI is to use AI — or at least tools and software appproaching AI.

In addition to the firms mentioned by Linna, Seyfarth Shaw, in connection with its subsidiary SeyfarthLean Consulting, announced in February an agreement with Blue Prism to deploy robotic process automation (RPA) software to the firm, marking the first adoption of Blue Prism’s technology for the legal industry.

Blue Prism’s software robots are implemented as digital labor to eliminate low-return, high-risk, administrative and processing work to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness while reducing operating costs.

Seyfarth’s chair emeritus Stephen Poor sends a message we’re going to hear the likes of more frequently.

We’re excited about the opportunity this creates to free our lawyers from some of the more mundane legal tasks so they can focus on helping our clients solve their most complex business issues. In testing various use cases, we’ve already seen how Blue Prism’s RPA software can help us create exponential gains in productivity, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of possibilities.

CARA, an automated research assistant from Casetext, uses AI and natural-language technologies to automate legal research tasks, allowing firms to spend time on higher-value, billable work—and not miss key precedents or decisions.

Quinn Emanuel quickly got the word out, as part of Casetext’s recent funding announcement, that they’re on board with Cara. From partner, David Eiseman:

CARA is an invaluable, innovative research tool. We can upload a brief and within seconds receive additional case law suggestions and relevant information on how cases have been used in the past, all in a user-friendly interface. This feature is unique to CARA, and a major step forward in how legal research is done.

“Important for law firms to understand,” per Greene “is that they’ll not be driving this change in legal services and business models with regard to AI, their clients will. The best thing firms can do is to be informed.”

Being informed alone won’t be enough. Lawyers and law firms will need to demonstrate that they are informed and have a working knowledge of AI.

Sure, writing and speaking about AI in the traditional fashion, is a start. But networking through the Internet via blogging and social media offers lawyers so much more – the ability to become a leader in the area — quickly.

Listen to the influential sources and key subjects (including terms, companies and products) on AI via Feedly. Share what you’re reading about AI via Twitter, engage the sources and what they’re saying in your blog.

Doing so will get you cited by the influencers, demonstrate you’re keeping abreast of developments in AI and build an enviable network of those in the know on AI.

Doing a quick look around, I did not see lawyers out blogging on AI in a way that sperates them from the pack. The opportunity is still there.

AI may even be the perfect place for law students and associates to start doing some online networking and blogging. Look at what Greene had to say about demonstrating your value — knowledge of AI.

Hey, I am am far from an expert when it comes to AI. But I do see a big marketing opportunity here for law firms. Firms are probably even acting at their peril in not marketing their knowledge and use of AI – large corporate consumers of legal services will be watching.

If law firms have jumped on cannabis, privacy, food safety, and consumer finance regulations to make a name for themselves, firms can do it with AI — via the use of AI, or at least demonstrating a working knowledge of AI.

I’m in Las Vegas for the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual conference this week. Not my favorite city, but I always enjoy LMA Annual for any number of reasons.

As always with conferences, it’s about the people. Relationships are what make the world go round. I’m pretty active on social media, but there’s no substitute for meeting face to face. Even hugging a long time customer (yes, there’s a lot of hugging) can mean a lot.

Drinks or dinner with industry colleagues we work with or want to work with is where business gets done. It’s wild that we don’t often talk business, but talk more about family, sports and where people grew up. Business discussion follows over the phone days later.

Getting feedback from customers, most often unsoliciated, comes face to face pretty quickly over a beer. Customers don’t shy from letting me know where we need to get better. While customers may not open up to my success team, folks want to get heard at the top and see something change. Most often it’s because they care. They want us to be successful.

I also want to brief customers on what’s become nothing short of a LexBlog revolution with our move from an agency model to a managed WordPress platform for legal. Customers receive all they have in the past, yet improved with more options, more quickly and at lower prices. We email folks, but things don’t always resonate.

Our products and marketing folks were nice enough to put together a brief deck that David Cuthbert and I can walk customers through in 5 or 10 minutes. We’re not trying to sell, I just want customers know the impact (all good) on them. Key for me is not selling here, but letting marketing professionals enjoy their time and catching up with each other.

Knowing the mood and trends of law firms when it comes to marketing, business development and technology is one of the most important things I do. Getting a hundred people in a room, listening to a speaker or a panel discussion and how they engage the presenters with questions and comments tells me a lot.

In Monday’s pre-conference technology track it was all about marketing automation. Law firms were all over it. Made clear that LexBlog needs to educate our customers on what they already have available from us and how easy it is to do integration with our platform so it’s working in harmony with whatever automated marketing platform they’re going to use. We also should reach out to the providers so they know we are there for integration.

Kudos to conference chairs, Cynthia Voth and Paul Grabowski, and their teams/committee members and LMA executive director, Betsi Roach and her team for pulling together another good show. Almost 2000 people, 160 sessions, and a crowded exhibit hall of companies/sponsors makes for a great event.

If you want to get together, drop me a note on social media works (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) and my phone to call or text is 206 321 3627. My email is kevin@lexblog.com. I’d welcome catching up and if a customer to walk you through our evolution.

While some law firm website developers are advising law firms to bury law blogs inside a law firm website, a just released ABA book on strategic online publishing for law firms advises just the opposite. Law blogs should be located off websites on a separate domain to build influence, achieve better seach engine performance (SEO) and generate business.

In fact, the authors, Steve Mathews (@stevematthews) and Jordan Furlong (@jordan_law21), both veteran and widely respected legal publishers and business development professionals, are seeing a growing trend by law firms to move blog publications off their websites.

Their new book, “Creating an Online Publishing Strategy for Law Firms,” provides lawyers and law firms with all they need to know about turning their firm’s content marketing (e.g. writing, newsletters, and blogging) into a coherent, effective and strategic online publishing campaign.

Key for Matthews And Furlong was to provide a step-by-step guide offering advice and ideas for building and maintaining an effective online publishing strategy that can communicate a lawyer’s and law firm’s expertise and enhance their profile with target clientele. In addition to large law firms, their book is useful for small and midsize law firms, from at least 10 lawyers up to as many as 100.

Topics include:

  • Designing a strategy to guide publishing efforts and integrate them with business development and branding plans
  • Choosing the best platforms for content, including blogs, newsletters and more
  • Distributing content through a variety of channels, from magazines and other old media to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other new media
  • Creating a publishing culture within a firm that motivates participation and contributions to the publishing strategy
  • Measuring the effectiveness of a firm’s publishing efforts, including the best metrics and tools to gauge the return on your investments

Blogs are the easiest, most effective, and most accessible form of legal publishing, per the authors.  But publishing content is not enough, “distributed publishing” is needed for a lawyer or law firm industry group to create a dominate market presence and generate business.

Law firms are moving their blog publishing away from their websites to create this market dominance and generate business.

Firms that originally tended to keep all their public content within the strict boundaries of their website gradually became more willing to locate that content beyond the website, isolating content for each target market on a web platform affiliated with the firm in some way (e.g., blogs, microsites, etc.).

Over the past several years, social media have been offering firms the opportunity to share that content even farther, outside of their own website and related platforms altogether. From our perspective, these two trends — locating content beyond the website, and circulating content throughout the internet — form the backbone of a strategic approach to both content creation and circulation that we call “distributed publishing.”

The authors do a nice job of explaining the logic of this strategy.

Distributed publishing involves a “hub-and-spokes” model of content delivery. Think of your law firm website as the central hub, the headquarters of your firm’s internet presence and its most valuable assets (home page, lawyer biographies, and practice descriptions). Now move out from that hub to an “inner ring” of spokes representing the firm’s complementary content platforms (blogs, microsites, etc.). This hub and this inner ring constitute most… of your firm’s content production.

Now move out farther again, and you’ll encounter a huge “outer ring” of spokes of third-party content production and distribution engines: a diverse assortment of trade periodicals, online news services, and most importantly, social media networks. These entities will distribute your content to a much wider audience than your own firm-affiliated web products could manage.

The three component parts of this “distributed publishing” ecosystem — your website home base (hub), your satellite firm-owned content destinations (first ring of spokes), and the vast array of content production and distribution networks (second ring of spokes) — all work together to establish the powerful, diverse, interlinked network of your firm’s online presence.

Blogs away from websites are more influential to clients and prospective clients.

Firms need this diverse presence in order to impress an increasingly sophisticated client market. When people need the services of a lawyer and conduct an online search, among the most important factors they consider is information about the lawyer located elsewhere than the lawyer’s website. Potential clients are likelier to be impressed by a lawyer with a website biography, a LinkedIn profile, blog contributions, a Twitter feed, shared presentation slides, third-party publications, and relevant legal industry tweets, than with a lawyer who has just a website biography alone. Law firms with farther-reaching and higher-quality online “footprints” generated by these multiple presences also tend to score more highly in search engine results.

The authors provide a diagram of the “spoke-and-hub” to strategic law firm publishing where you’ll see blogs at the first ring out from a firm’s website.

FullSizeRender

Matthews and Furlong know their stuff. I have know each of them for a long time, have the utmost respect for them and find them not only on top of their game, but also very giving of their time to the industry through their own publishing, speaking and social media activity.

Mathews, president and founder of Stem Legal Web Enterprises, a web development, publishing and strategy company for the legal profession has been working within the online legal environment for almost 20 years (including 12 years inside law firms). He’s conceived, managed, coded and marketed law firm websites, blogs, intranets, portals and extranets. Of partcular note for those claiming blogs inside websites are better for search engine performance, Mathews is recognized as one of the leading authorities on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for lawyers and law firms.

Furlong is a lawyer, consultant and legal industry leader, who previously served as the editor of National, the publication of record for the Canadian Bar Association (equivalent of ABA Journal). As a senior consultant with legal web development company Stem Legal Web Enterprises, he advises lawyers and law firms on content marketing and consults regarding the establishment and execution of publishing strategies. He’s also widely respected on the business of law in the future.

I don’t say this to impress you with Fuhrlong and Matthews, but to impress upon you that these guys have been publishing online and blogging for a long time. They are not website developers who have come to content marketing and blogging later on — out of necessity, not because they personally blogged to build a name and relationships for business development.

Pick up the book, it’s short and easy read. If you’re in doubt of the merits of blogging strategically and think the book costs too much, let me know. I’ll buy you a copy.

Sitting here at Skadden in Chicago at the Chicago Legal Innovation and Technology Meetup listening to speakers talk of access to legal services.

The point being that 85% plus of people never think of using a lawyer. Lawyers rank six on who people turn to for legal advice. Number one is friends and family members.

The reason, per Fred Headon (@fredheadon), the general counsel of Air Canada, is that lawyers have made themselves irrelevant by not communicating like everyone else.

The public engages each other on the Internet – Facebook, Twitter, blogs (real ones engaging bloggers, reporters, business people and consumers and not content marketing for attention) and more.

Yet it seems lawyers look for ways to not be real and authentic. Who would trust creatures that do not communicate like real people?

Heck, most people don’t even know a lawyer. Lawyers aren’t out listening, mingling and engaging people online.

If people knew of a lawyer, liked them and trusted them, they may call them and the lawyer would get work. But this is not going to happen if lawyers don’t use the Internet like everyone else. ‪

* Sorry about the cryptic nature of this post, just some quick notes at the end of the program.

The ABA Techshow, one of the largest legal tech gatherings of the year, runs the rest of this week in Chicago.

Legal technology companies, new and old, will be there in spades.

All seeking attention. All wanting the love.

The companies and their people will be all over social media. Look at who we are. Look at what we do. Look at a new feature we just launched. Look at who we partnered with.

The problem is you get the love on social media only when you give the love on social media. At a ratio of about ten to one, too – you’ll receive ten times as much love as you give.

Rather than looking at social media as a neon sign with your name in lights, look at social media as a means to have a conversation with someone and to build a name over time. You do this by giving a little love to the people you’d like to talk with – online or offline.

It’s not hard. Make a list of the people and companies at Techshow with whom you’d like to engage.

If you’re seeking publicity for your company or a new product, the influencers ought to be at the top of your list.

The influencers? Leading tech bloggers, reporters (if you can find any), trusted industry leaders who have a nice presence on social media – could be company leaders, lawyers, bar executives or anyone who’s developed a nice following over time.

Also on the list are the names of companies and individuals who’d you like to meet, if not at this show, then down the road.

Maybe it’s a company or two with whom you’d like to work with. Or a company founder or executive from whom you’d let to get a little guidance.

Now you need to stick out your hand and shake theirs – online.

Monitor the #abatechshow hashtag on Twitter. When the people or organizations on your list tweet something they are proud of, a new product launch, that their team is in Chicago or whatever, retweet it, giving them a little kudos. Maybe it’s them reporting something you could share.

Just like walking into a room full of folks at a conference, you can only engage those people there. So be flexible as to those you’re engaging on Twitter via the ABA TechShow hashtag. By engaging those not on your list, you’ll meet others.

As you walk around the exhibit floor, make note of the companies and organizations you’d like to meet. Stop at their booths, talk to the people and get to know them a bit.

Also, put together a Twitter list of the people and organizations whom you’d like to engage. The list will pick up everything from these folks, including that which didn’t reference conference hashtags.

Take picture or two of the people and their booth. Share the photo on Twitter, giving a shout out to the company as to what you thought particularly cool. Maybe it was the people, the history of the company or a new launch. Doesn’t matter.

Make sure in all your Tweets, you’ve included the Twitter handle of the individuals and organizations. That way they’ll see you.

Social media, for building a reputation and relationships, is all about shining a light on others. Doing so you’ll end up in conversations, online and offline.

Niki Black, an attorney and legal technology evangelist at MyCase, does a wonderful job of giving love to others on social media as means of building MyCase’s brand.

She’s blogged about her observations at conferences, giving shoutouts to people and companies as part of her reporting.

This last year she’s been doing video interviews of legal tech entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers right at MyCase’s booth. The videos are nicely edited and then run over a few months time – all strategically shared across social media. Who wouldn’t like that type of love?

Beer for Bloggers events, hosted by LexBlog at tech conferences over the last thirteen years, were started as a way to give a little love to Bloggers and other industry professionals who always spoke kindly of LexBlog online and offline.

For the last ten years, LexBlog has conducted video Interviews at legal conferences all over the country. We wanted to portray the people interviewed as heroes for companies they founded or initiatives they launched, be it even their blog. Conference coordinators loved it was well.

Be different. Engage others. You think you’ll get the ear of Bob Ambrogi, the “Dean of Legal Tech Reporting,” by shouting at him and the world on Twitter.

  • “Easy timekeeping wherever you go – stop by Booth #318 while at ABA Techshow…”
  • “We will be at booth 821 #ABATECHSHOW tomorrow in the Startup Alley section #legaltech”
  • “Boost #SEO, #PPC and turn visitors into customers. Contact us for a FREE consultation at 619.567.9322. #ABATECHSHOW”
  • “…is going to #ABATECHSHOW this week and we’re revealing new product! Stop by Booth 808 and see what the buzz is about!

ABA Techshow, a conference filled with down-to-earth tech companies, industry leaders and lawyers, is a great place to learn to use social media the right way.

By giving a little love.

I was struck by a recent blog post and article by lawyer and global law firm marketing and management consultant, Gerry Riskin, which talked of a law firm’s success being dependent on the success of the firm’s individual lawyers.

I find the same in blogging – success for the firm comes from the success of individual blogging lawyers.

I advise law firms to empower individual bloggers to chase niches that do or could lie within the strategic plan of the firm. LexBlog’s product roadmap, though improving our offering to groups of lawyers in large firms, is placing some emphasis on empowering individual lawyers to blog – whether in large or small firms. Easy to launch, inexpensive and eloquent blog publishing for an individual lawyer, or two.

With some exceptions, lawyers who blog individually, even at the largest of firms, achieve more than lawyers blogging in group blogs. Achievement being measured by revenue (in the millions of dollars a year) for the lawyer as well as for other lawyers in the firm who participate in the work generated.

This would likely be no surprise to Riskin. In his years of consulting with law firms around the globe, he’s found that the most successful law firms are those that empower individual lawyers to chase their dreams.

The lawyers in your firm deserve practices that are personally satisfying while also returning the financial rewards that are commensurate with the value they give your clients. As a law firm leader, you can help individual lawyers to create a vision for attaining personal fulfillment, while also contributing to the law firm as a whole, by providing them with the tools they will need to make those personal visions a reality.

There may be another reason solo bloggers out perform group bloggers. Lawyers cherish their independence, per Riskin.

Lawyers are among the most ferociously independent people on this planet who have ever chosen to work in groups. Many of us chose the law because we wanted to be able to apply independent thinking, and have a lot of control. We wanted to be able to decide for ourselves how to conduct a matter, and how to serve a client.

Risken provides the recipe for a firm’s success via the success of individual lawyers.

  • Provide lawyers in the firm with the leeway to create a vision of the kind of clientele and the practice they want within the scope of the firm’s initiatives.
  • Offer professional development sessions and workshops that will facilitate their moving closer to their goals, by honing business development skills.
  • Conduct workshops in areas relating to client interaction that many lawyers find difficult.
  • Help individual lawyers learn ways to combat the pressures of time.

Man, Risken may as well have been providing a roadmap for blogging success in large law firms.

I just blogged about launching a successful blogging initiavtive in a law firm. The key was finding a lawyer or two who want to blog, are passionate about building a name for themselves in niche industries or areas of the law and educating them as to what blogging is really all about.

As the lawyers become successful, they’ll serve as viral positives for lawyers who follow. As Risken says, “An outsider may have impressive credentials, but that is no match for the credibility that the top performers within the organization enjoy.”

Riskin might as well have been wrapping up this post on the advantages of individual lawyer blogs when he wrote the below.

Law firms with lawyers who have happy and fulfilling careers will prosper. Competitors cannot easily emulate them, and the advantages enjoyed by firms who have worked with lawyers to develop their own personal action plans quickly becomes obvious – resulting in benefits not only in the work environment but also on the bottom line.

Group blogs will surely continue in larger firms, and some will experience success, but individual bloggers generate significant revenue for themselves, other lawyers in the firm and the firm itself.

A law firm marketing professional recently emailed me about the challenge of getting a blogging initiative underway at his firm.

His firm, though progressive in other ways, has been slow to adopt things “of this nature.” He was also concerned about the lawyers publishing blog posts.

He wondered if I had any ideas. I thought I’d share my response.

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Don’t worry about slow adoption, most firms are just getting started blogging. Many firms that started a while ago have wasted a lot of time doing it wrong.

The key to the dilemma is to make blogging a fun and rewarding experience for the lawyers who are going to blog. Blogging will not then feel like a chore and getting posts up will not then be a challenge.

Begin with the lawyers understanding what blogging is and what the goal is.

The goal is not necessarily to write content and bring traffic to a blog or a website. The goal is building word of mouth and relationships, the same things that have built your firm. The Internet has not changed this.

Keep clear you’ll measure success by an increase in revenue – how much has revenue jumped for the lawyers/area involved? It can be very significant.

Knowing this, identify the areas the firm is looking to grow or sees an opportunity.

Do you have a lawyer or lawyers who want to build a name in the area and want to learn to use the Internet to do so? Who wants to become a star – to do the type of work they’d love to do, for the type of clients they want to do that work for and never have to worry about where business is coming from.

Why not set such a goal? Many, many other lawyers have achieved these heights. Certainly you have lawyers the equal of other firms.

Know that not every lawyer wants to blog – ask who is excited – do not end up with an editorial calendar where it’s a chore for the lawyers and the person chasing them down. If lawyers say they are not excited, that’s okay.

The blog will be on one niche area the firm excels at or is looking to grow. Could even be tighter than area of law – a type of trust in estate planning versus estate planning, generally, for example.

Niche blogs become a must read by a niche audience, the lawyers will know it and they’ll see “why blog.” Niches are absolutely critical. Niches do not limit work, they expand the work coming through trust and name recognition.

Educate the blogging lawyers that we are not talking articles. We are talking blogging.

Depending on the niche, you may reference and share news and developments, heavily using block quotes, and offering your take/why you shared it.

The lawyers will be referencing other bloggers (law and industry), reporters and association news – you’ll make a list of about 20 influencers that fall in this group that the blogging lawyers will be following.

Blogging is like pressing the flesh. You get known by citing others and your blog gets cited and shared by others in return.

Posts may be as brief 250 to 500 words. Think about the emails between lawyers in the firm and to clients that already do share items and offer a quick take. It’s not much different.

You can expand, once the blog gets known, to having guest posts of people with whom you want to build relationships and to do “four question email interviews” of referral sources, business associates and the like.

Any help lawyers may need, and most do not help once they understand blogging, is in proof reading, titling a post and putting in an image.

Begin with the premise that we’ve always networked to build a name and relationships, now we’re going to learn how to use the Internet to do so. We’ll start networking through the Internet.

Rather than making blogging a big initiative, get a lawyer or two started who can become blog/social media champions and be a viral positive from whom other interested lawyers in the firm can learn. It may be a year or two for others to follow.

Feel comfortable with two to four posts a month, maybe starting with just two. Don’t set yourself up for faiure and making lawyers feel guilty for not achieving unrealistic goals.

Once lawyers get the hang of blogging the right way and pick up the “love” of getting cited by bloggers and reporters, getting their posts shared on social media and invited to speak, blogging becomes addictive.

After the blogging lawyers get the hang of blogging, introduce Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as further ways of networking through the net. Not as distribution channels, but as ways of engaging followers of your blog.

To summarize, begin with education of what we’re doing by blogging, how we’ll do it, how we’ll measure success and involve those excited about the opportunity. Do that and posts will not be an issue.

You know my take on ghost posts as a way to “create content.” Don’t go down that road. Your firm is better than that.

I cringe when I hear legal marketers discuss social media as a means for distributing content.

It’s as if they didn’t get to the first word in social media – “social,” meaning getting to know and enjoying other people.

Here’s five reasons why social media is a heck of a lot more important to you, as a lawyer, than using it to distribute content.

First, social media is a how we, as a society, interact today. We communicate and get to know each other online. If you’re not using social media, how can you credibly engage and connect with people?

Look at the numbers. 79% of online Americans use Facebook, 32% use Instagram, 29% use LinkedIn and 24% use Twitter.

Americans are living on social media. 76% of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day and over half of Facebook’s users visit several times a day.

Second, social media represents an opportunity to learn.

Coach Lou Holtz used to say the only thing that will change you from person you are today and the person you’ll be five years from now are the books you read and the people you meet. Social media delivers this in spades, though in short firm media, versus books.

By using Feedly as your news aggregator you may monitor sources (blogs, newspapers, trade periodicals) and subjects (terms of art, cases, companies). Not only will you, as a lawyer, stay abreast of developments in your field, you’ll build a network to kill for by connecting with the knowledgeable people whose items from Feedly you share on social media.

Third, social media provides you with the opportunity to build a name for yourself. While some lawyers are chasing attention through SEO, Adwords and distribution services, you’ll be building a name. A name that lasts a lifetime.

By focusing on a niche area of the law or locale, effective social media use enables you to establish yourself as a “go to” lawyer.

Fourth, social media enables you to build and grow relationships far faster than you can offline. Along with a name, relationships are how good lawyers grow their book of business.

By sharing other’s content on Twitter you not only build a name in a niche, you build relationships with the people who favor what you’re sharing.

When blogging, reference what influencers are discussing. You’ll build influence with them, and soon see them referencing what you’re blogging. In time you’ll be connecting and meeting with these influencers.

Share your blog posts on LinkedIn not just as a means of distribution, but as a way of getting to know the people you’d like to meet – you’ll find them liking and commenting on your posts.

By friending on Facebook people who can add value to your life (business associates, referral sources, association leaders, reporters, executives) you’ll be surprised how you get to know others you’d have never known otherwise. People who are more apt to respond to a message from you on Facebook messenger than an email.

Look at content as the currency of networking — of building relationshiops. Who you meet and the relationships you build are much more important than the “content” itself.

Fifth, social media is the great equalizer. Never before, could you, as an individual lawyer on your own, build a name and relationships as fast as you can with social media.

Large law firms offer their lawyers the power of sophisticated marketing and public relations. Today, a lawyer effectively using social media can achieve more than lawyers in multi-billion dollar law firms.

Sure, people consume news and information on social media. For many Americans, social media has supplanted the newspaper and television as their leading source of news.

But don’t miss the more important things social media provides you as a lawyer – much more important things than distributing content.

Fastcase’s legal research solution is now integrated into LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform.

Publishers on LexBlog’s platform are now able to cite a case, code or regulation and have their citation linked to the source. Clicking on the link will then display, within the same browser interface, the case, code or regulation from Fastcase’s data base.

Here’s a visual of how a blog publisher may use Fastcase citations on LexBlog’s platform.

fastcase-search

Law bloggers have had a hard time citing cases, codes and statutes. Bloggers regularly cite primary law, but what do they link to? Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters LexisNexis keep primary law behind a paywall, making people subscribe to their service to gain access to the law.

A law blogger subscribing to such services has access to the law, but their readers may not. Even those readers who do subscribe to the law will not be able to access the law linked to by the blogger as the blogger may be using a different subscription service.

Many law bloggers uploaded a pdf of the law and linked to that. Others didn’t cite or link, if they did. Both a little clumsy.

That problem is now over for bloggers on LexBlog’s platform.

Equally important was the need to integrate secondary authority with primary law – cases, codes and statutes. More and more, secondary authority is being published online and open. Such is the case with the thousands of law blogs being published by practicing lawyers, law professors, law clerks and law students.

To limit secondary authority to published journals, law reviews and treatises (usually behind paywalls) is the height of folly today.

A law professor, law student or practicing lawyer is as apt to publish legal commentary on a blog or other online publication as they are to publish to traditional publications. More so in the case of practicing lawyers.

Courts have recognized law blogs and open online publications as secondary authority by accepting blog citations in briefs and citing blogs in their decisions. Courts will now be able to seamlessly examine the authority cited by a law blogger.

Somone doing online research pulling up an open publication or blog will be able to readily review the authority cited by the blogger. Courts and lawyers citing such publications and blogs will know that the source will carry links to primary law.

The second part of the Fastcase-LexBlog integration will incorporate LexBlog Network blog posts in Fastcase’s libraries. When a law blogger cites primary law, the blog will annotate the case, code or statute. Those doing research will have immediate access to the insight of other legal professionals.

Fastcase, through a partnership with HeinOnline, already annotates primary law with an extensive collection of law reviews. Law blogs curated by LexBlog will be a natural fit.

Expect to see this next phase of the integration within a few months.

Ed Walters (@EJWalters), the CEO of Fastcase, and I have talked about this integration for years. Ed is a big proponent of open law and law blogs serving as secondary authority.

As way of background, Fastcase is a leading legal publisher focused on smarter legal software that democratizes the law.

Founded in 1999 by Ed and Phil Rosenthal, Fastcase is one of the fastest-growing legal tech companies, with more than 800,000 subscribers from around the world and is licensed by the majority of state bar associations for their members.

I’m enjoying the addition of ALM’s (American Legal Media) publications in the feeds in my news aggregator, Feedly.

Through a subscription I just bought to ALM’s Law.com I receive feeds from the entire ALM network of 15 national and regional news publications, as well as commentary from leading voices in the legal field. I bought a subscription to Law.com for about $350/year, the rate given to small law firms. LexBlog, though not a law firm, qualified.

While most of the stories are about legal issues, law firms and the business of law, there are quite a few stories of interest to me and my followers on Twitter.

Stories on digital publishing, technology, business development, social media and the like. When I say quite a few, it’s probably about 5%, but that’s a higher percentage than my other feeds from sources and subjects I monitor in my aggregator. In addition, there are stories regarding law firms, companies and people of which I am interested.

The ALM is not one central feed through the law.com url, but comes via subscribing to each of the ALM legal publications. I went through the list of ALM’s featured legal publications and added them one at a time to Feedly (see above picture).

As many of you know, I share on Twitter a fair number of stories written by others – reporters, bloggers and columnists. I read stories in my aggregator for learning and staying abreast of news and developments, just as you’d read newspapers, periodicals and blogs.

From a business development standpoint for LexBlog and I, I meet and build relationships with the people (virtually to start with) whose stories, columns and blog posts I share. Who wouldn’t be curious who it is that’s sharing their story on Twitter?

They found out their story is being shared by me because I include their Twitter handle in my tweet. I also meet the people and companies who are the subject of the stories I share as I’ll include their Twitter handles.

In addition to potentially building relationships with reporters, bloggers, business people and companies, I serve as an “intelligence agent” for my followers on Twitter. I am combing the news in my aggregator on certain subjects and sharing the stories and blog posts with my followers. Not only does this build a name for me as being on top of my game on these subjects, but people come to rely on me as a source of helpful news and information.

ALM’s news feed is a good fit for me because of it’s legal bent, the reporters and subjects of the stories who I can meet, the quality of the journalism and my sharing of news and columns which folks would not otherwise see behind a paywall. I pay for my subscription to get the feeds, but non-subscribers can read the stories when shared by a subscriber on Twitter and other social media.

Sharing others’ content on Twitter seems to have built a lot of good will for me over the years. The more I share like this, the more people who follow me on Twitter, the more people like their stories shared by me and the more people share my blog posts. ALM’s feeds can only help.

Thanks much to ALM’s Shawn Harlan in business development and their chief sales officer, Allen Milloy, who helped me get the subscription.