I read, via a blog post from Rick Georges, that a Fastcase 7 update includes what Georges calls a “brief bank” for lawyers.

Got me thinking of a law blog bank.

As way of background, brief banks enable lawyers to get their hands on relevant briefs and memorandums that another lawyer has prepared and filed with the court.

Not only saves a lawyer time, but gives them insight into another lawyer’s thinking and analysis.

As a practicing lawyer, we had a brief bank available to state lawyer association members. It had few, if any, relevant briefs. And it took a couple weeks to get your hands on them.

Fastcase buys Docket Alarm, which then practicing attorney Michael Sander created. Docket Alarm could monitor court dockets and make available relevant court filings – including briefs and memorandums. An instant brief bank on steroids.

An aggregation of all credible law blogs provides much the same value.

A lawyer is working on an issue and looking for the current insight and analysis of other lawyers on the issue. Perhaps even from the most knowledgeable and respected lawyer on the subject in the country.

Unlike briefs, blogs are not filed with courts. Who’s going to aggregate them?

A company that is already aggregating law blogs with posts from a huge number of law bloggers.

If we’re smart, LexBlog is that company.

  • We are already aggregating blog posts from almost 30,000 lawyers.
  • We’re building a data base by blog subject, lawyer, location, firm, post subject, etc.
  • We’re building an API accessible to legal research and AI platforms.
  • We’re recruiting and adding blogs by the day.

Not boasting. Just seems like a doable common sense solution that would help lawyers.

I noticed today that veteran legal blogger, Bob Ambrogi added a resource section to his LawSites Blog.

Called, LawSitesResources.com, this resource section is a frequently changing collection of white papers, e-books and other resources, all available at no cost.

The section currently lists twenty different resources, covering topics that range from CCPA compliance to data privacy to the law firm of tomorrow.

For example, this week’s featured resource for family lawyers and family law professionals is a free report, How Parenting Plans Are Being Modified During COVID.

Ambrogi, blogging on legal technology matters for almost eighteen years, has a good sized audience of lawyers, other legal professionals and legal tech companies.

His audience is likely to have an interest in the items shared, the particular items varying based on their interests.

Items at LawSitesResources.com are sponsored by the companies that produced them and generate revenue for LawSites. You would not be charging for resources posted to a resource section to your blog.

They may include:

  • Resources from government agencies
  • Resources from various organizations, including companies
  • Law firm publications – your firms and other firms (assuming not a problem
  • Your own blog posts that are evergreen in nature that you reduce to a nice PDF
  • PDF outlines of information your law firm otherwise shares in emails, client alerts, articles etc
  • Relevant podcasts or videos

I am sure there are more items you could share, but you get the point.

Know too, that not every blog needs a resource center – and a resource would be work to assemble, needs to be good and needs to be updated with new items and the deletion of outdated items.

Legal blogs have also proven more valuable business development tools through regular engagement of your audience than as a destination site.

Thirty some years ago, as a practicing lawyer, I’d receive a carbon copy of a lawyer referral slip from the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Someone from the La Crosse area had contacted the State Bar, via a toll free number displayed in the yellow pages, asking for a referral to a local lawyer.

I was on the referral list for matters in which I had no deep expertise. Being I was next up on the list, my name, with nothing on my background nor expertise, was given to the person who called the Bar.

The carbon copy was forwarded to me so I knew that if the person contacted me, I was to pay ten percent of my fee to the Bar.

With some flaws, it was not a bad way to connect people with lawyers in a state – thirty or sixty years ago.

Like everything, the Internet has changed how people find a lawyer.

Unfortunately, websites and directories, aren’t doing a great job in connecting people with lawyers. 85% of people, regardless of whether they have the financial resources or not, don’t contact a lawyer.

Websites and online legal directories aren’t working to increase to legal services. They tend to be advertisements, brochures and fancy yellow pages.

People rightly expect more, and don’t place a lot of trust in these things as a means to identifying the right lawyer for them.

How about something as simple as state bar association law blog network.

  • Identity the top cities in your state, Maybe the top five or ten. For larger states, it may be more,
  • Identify the top ten or fifteen areas of practice. When building out Prairielaw.com, later incorporated into Martindale’s lawyers.com, we identified thirteen practice areas for which we’d provide legal information by state.
  • Identify where good blogs already exist for these metro areas and other areas within the state.
  • Identify where there there are not good law blogs for each of the practice areas in any of the identified metro areas.
  • Aggregate and curate the existing blog content now being published by lawyers. The content is displayed online, with constant updates. Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona and New York City have already done this.
  • Include a directory of these blogs, bloggers and their firms. Not just for people to come and find bloggers, though they may, but to have profiles for each the blogs, bloggers and firms that will be indexed at Google.
  • Recruit the blogs and bloggers you need to fill the practice areas in each of the identified metro areas.
  • There is no cost to the lawyers.

What do you have?

  • A vehicle by which a consumer or small business person can go to the net, probably Google, and immediately find an experienced and caring lawyer in the niche needed. They’ll find the blog and they’ll find the profile of the blogging lawyer on the bar’s network site.
  • A vehicle for consumers and small business people to develop an intimate relationship of trust with a lawyer. Not only is the lawyer sharing valuable information, they are doing it themselves, in their own writing and in their town of voice.
  • The type of solution people expect with the Internet today. Something that is innovative and disruptive, not more of the same. Something that gives a person something more than they otherwise get from a website or a directory.
  • A never ending and growing body of information for consumers and small businesses on various areas of the law.

Pretty simple concept.

What do we have to lose by trying legal blog networks, except the growing gap in access to legal services and people choosing the wrong lawyer.

Getting the influencers to write about you and your newly launched law blog is usually overlooked by lawyers and legal marketing professionals.

Ironically, as I explained to a couple law firms this last week, it needn’t be hard to get the influencers to do so.

Influencers are those people who influence your audience of clients, prospective clients, referral sources and association leaders when it comes to taking notice of you, your blog and your credibility.

Influencers include mainstream media, trade media, bloggers and social media users who cover and discuss matters in the niche upon which you are or will be blogging.

Influencers by definition are those with a decent sized audience, and whom are viewed by their audience as a credible source of news, information, insight and commentary.

In the early days of blogging, lawyers launching blogs often contacted other bloggers and the media announcing the launch of their blog. Occasionally it worked to get some publicity. Most of the time, it did not.

Today, I don’t see lawyers or law firms seeking publicity on the launch of their blogs, whether via a press release, email or otherwise. The initial launch of a blog is not really news and most influencers would laugh it off.

But one way to get influencers to take note of you, your blog, and your credibility is to ask for their feedback.

How so?

  • Make a list of the influencers and their sources.
  • Follow what they are writing/reporting/blogging.
  • Share in your blog, via a block quote, what some of your influencers are “saying” and offer your take.
  • Let them know you shared what they had to say with an email letting them know, a tweet mentioning them as a source or a posting on LinkedIn mentioning them as a source in your blog post shared on LinkedIn.
  • Once your blog is up and going for about 90 days, drop some of your influencers an email asking for feedback on your blog. 90 days gives you some credibility and demonstrates some commitment to blogging.

How so?

  • Tell them you’re a follower of their work.
  • Let them know you are new to this world of citizen journalism, or blogging. That you are just figuring out the right ways and wrong ways of doing things. Figuring what “works” and what doesn’t.
  • Knowing they’ve been in journalism and, maybe, blogging in particular, compliment them on their work in this regard and ask for feedback on your blogging.

There is no guaranty they will write about you and your blog, directly, but you have a decent chance of them beginning to cite you and what you are blogging.

The reason being is that you took a down to earth and sincere approach to engaging them. Being that other lawyers and law firms are marketing and pushing content at people, this approach is welcomed and well received by the influencers.

There’s a lesson to be learned by lawyers from blogging’s beginnings. It’s in not over complicating things.

Blog is an abbreviation of the term, “weblog,” a website where people logged their browsing activity on the web. Almost in a diary like fashion.

Publishers of weblogs logged their activity. Where they want, the url, what they saw and offered their take.

Posts were displayed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent posts appeared first – at the top of the web page.

A social or networking aspect arose in a few ways.

First, publishers of a weblog cited the source of their post, often another weblog, and the publisher of the that site. Through technology called a “trackback,” weblog publishers, becoming known as bloggers, received a notice on their blog that they had been cited (linked to).

Second, bloggers kept a folder for vanity feeds, in their RSS readers. Doing so, bloggers could see who cited/linked to them and their blog.

Third, comments to a blog post, something now found primarily social media, were left on a blog.

And fourth, bloggers often had a “blogroll” in a side column of their blog site, listing, and linking to, blogs in which the blogger had an interest. Generally, blogs on the same subject.

It’s also important to note that the emergence and growth of blogs in the late 1990s coincided with the democratization of web publishing. Perhaps, publishing in general.

Until then, web publishers needed someone with HTML and web development experience to post to the web. File Transfer Protocol was used to publish content to the web.

As a blogging lawyer focused on a niche, you should take from blogging’s beginnings the power of logging what you are seeing – what you area reading.

Publish what you are reading in block quotes, citing and linking to the source and the name of the publisher/blogger/journalist/reporter.

Offer the reason you are logging/sharing what you read, and maybe, your quick take. Need not be long.

You will develop a following as a bit of an Associated Press on your niche. Who else will be following and covering things like you – on a national, international, state or local scale.

You’ll be building a network by citing others.

Publishing’s been democratized. Take advantage of it – but don’t overcomplicate it.

Many of you don’t know Dan Schwartz, a Connecticut lawyer and publisher of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog.

I know Dan as a friend, having first met him in Montreal thirteen years ago. I’ve gotten to know his caring family, and him, mine, through Facebook.

So it gave me goosebumps (I get emotional, easily) when I read what Dan shared on LinkedIn this morning.

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint when certain life events have a big impact on your career.

For me, one of the biggest of them is actually easy to spot.

It was 13 years ago this week that I started a blog on employment law. A few months prior, I had met Kevin O’Keefe at a young lawyers conference for the ABA in, of all places, Montreal.

I worked with his then-skeleton crew at LexBlog, Inc. and it’s all history from there.

So why has something as small as a blog had such an impact?

Lots of reasons: The doors it has opened to meeting others. The continual focus on staying relevant. The impact it has had on my writing.

And so much more. So, here’s to 13 years!”

I continue to ask lawyers to get out the magic wand out when thinking of blogging. Why? Blogging can be a life changing event.

You can represent the clients you’d like to represent on the type of matters you’d like to work on. You can pay your children’s college tuition at the school of their choice. You’ll be invited to travel to nice places with your spouse to speak – and it’ll be all paid for.

And like Dan says it’s just nice to have the opportunity to meet others, to stay relevant in your field and to improve your skills.

Blogging. Kind of amazing the impact it can have on a lawyer’s career.

My team and are honored to play a small role in helping these lawyers.

Too many blogging lawyers report the law, rather than share an interpretation of the law. At the same time, it’s the interpretation of the law – what the law means to them – that blog readers are looking for.

When it comes down to it, any second year law student can report the law. They’ve done plenty of it already in law school.

You can also hire people who are not lawyers to write your legal blog posts. Other lawyers hire lawyers who are not practicing and have no expertise in the niche to write their blog posts. Sadly, too many lawyers do.

Darryl Cross, well known for his work in helping business leaders develop high performing teams, commenting on a recent post of mine, shared:

The biggest pivot lawyers need to make is going from “here is what the law says” to “here is what I PERSONALLY think it means to you”. It is a watershed moment that anyone can do—-if they have the courage to do so. And they should. Take a stand, have a point of view, and you will have a great blog.

Cross is spot on.

Imagine a client on the phone asking you a question. You’d sound pretty silly saying let me pull out this case or regulation summary and read it to you.

You’d listen to the client share the situation, maybe ask a few questions and then offer your take – preliminary or general as it may be, without going further.

Blogging is the same.

Legal blogging works, not because you are competing with Westlaw, but because you are creating an intimate relationship of trust with people, including in-house counsel and execs, by sharing your take. Your take, founded on experience and judgment.

Blogging like this shouldn’t take courage, as Cross alludes to. Helping people is why we went to law school. Being afraid to talk with folks also won’t get you far as a lawyer.

But if courage it takes to take a stand and have a point of view, you need to do it.

Not in the sense of poking your thumb in someone’s eye or being a Rush Limbaugh, but in the sense of here’s my take on how the law applies to you, to this situation.

There is nothing unethical about sharing general insight on the law. That’s not an issue.

You can easily separate yourself from other legal bloggers, maybe lawyers on the same law firm blog, by saying here is what I think.

I try my best to share each of my blog posts on LinkedIn.

As Jeff Nowak, publisher of FMLA Insights, shared recently, writing a blog post and not sharing it on LinkedIn is like hitting a home run and stopping at first base.

I don’t just share a link, I share the whole post in the space provided. If the copy won’t fit – most posts will not – I shorten the post up. Bottom line, I give LinkedIn users everything they need to get the point.

It does not matter one bit if readers do not come to my blog. Like you, I’m not selling shorts or chocolate, I don’t need people to come to my site to buy something. Again like you, I’m blogging to demonstrate my skill and build relationships.

Plus, folks don’t have the time to leave a social media site and visit another site to read an article.

Today was the perfect example of how easy it is to network by sharing a post on LinkedIn.

I penned a post yesterday on how easy it is for blogging lawyers to get found By potential clients. The post took thirty minutes.

I shared about three-quarters of the post (to squeeze it all in). Today I looked at who liked and commented on the post. I’m looking at people I’d be interested in talking to.

I guess I treat it much like a social event at a conference. Who would I like to get to know.

Except here I have more than a dimly lit room, a bar and nameless faces.

Here I can see who liked something I said, who commented on what I said and who shared what I said with others.

Today I saw someone from Asia with a strong background in legal business development in major firms liking and sharing my post of yesterday.

We’ve already connected on LinkedIn and are exchanging notes. My guess is we’ll hook up by phone and the obligatory Zoom call.

This is why you call blogging, “Networking through the Internet.” The content is just the currency of engagement.

It’s regularly said that people and businesses hire lawyers, not law firms.

This played today in an interview of Linda Lu, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at TransUnion, by Practical Law The Journal: Litigation.

TransUnion’s Legal & Compliance department has approximately 200 associate lawyers. Lu is Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel.

As to hiring outside counsel, Lu was asked, “What three things does a law firm need to do to impress you?

Lu replied that she looks at individual lawyers with whom to partner, not the law firm.

To impress me, a lawyer should:

  1. Provide practical legal and business-oriented advice.
  2. Be a trusted advisor who my company and I can rely on to have our backs and who makes my life easier (including by appreciating how my success is measured and the limits of my time and resources).
  3. Communicate articulately and succinctly.”

Provide practical advice, be a trusted advisor and communicate articulately and succinctly.

Talk to the good legal bloggers, the ones who have generated millions of dollars in legal work from corporations. These three points made by Lu are exactly what they do in their blogging.

Most blogging lawyers who achieve business success through blogging do it on their own blog, as opposed to a group blog.

Makes sense, only one lawyer can go up in front of a trade association to give a talk or talk one to one at a social event afterwards. It’s all about trust and relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent group legal blogs published by law firms that generate significant business. In addition, lawyers may not get certain work if they don’t have a strong firm behind them.

But even in group blogs it helps big time if there is a blogging champion or two. Lawyers who establish themselves as trusted advisors by communicating in a personal, yet professional, way and provide practical advice, regularly.

Corporations do tend to hire the individual blogging lawyers, not a group of blogging lawyers.

Last Thursday, a friend asked me to find a lawyer for them or to get a referral from a lawyer so they could get counsel on a niche legal issue in a large metro area in another state.

No matter what anyone tells you, locating the right lawyer is not easy, and usually comes via relationships.

So I reached out to a lawyer I knew in that metro area to see if they knew of such a lawyer or knew of a lawyer who may. No luck.

As way of context, lawyers get work by referring work to other lawyers, it builds a network.

Any lawyer would be glad to take my call asking for a referral to another lawyer. And that lawyer would be glad to take the call of any lawyer in their community asking for the same thing. It’s how they get referrals – by referring work out.

When I came up empty on a referral, fortunately I knew the name of NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys), an association of attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of older Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. 

It was an elder law niche issue for which I needed a referral. And lawyers who are members and leaders of niche associations are good places to start a search.

It took me hours wading through NAELA’s poorly developed directory with some lawyers having some information about themselves and others having none. Often the information was such that only a lawyer would know what it meant, and even then the info was not that helpful in selecting a lawyer here.

Unfortunately, it was much the same for law firm websites when I got to them from links on NAELA’s site. Though I did email three lawyers last Thursday night and Friday morning. Only one responded.

Imagine if a lawyer blogged on elder law issues, perhaps more particularly on the relevant niche. The more they blogged, the more likely they would have hit that niche.

I do a search on the niche in that metro and I find that lawyer, their blog and their insight on the issue. Within seconds.

Case closed. The lawyer gets the call.

Lawyers worry about where there work is going to come from. Lawyers pay countless dollars for websites, SEO and directories.

Why not just share what you know by answering the questions you get in your practice. Do it once a week – about 30 minutes is all – and you have fifty answers a year.

It’s not not hard, it’s called blogging – and you’d make it much easier for people looking for your help as a lawyer to find you.