Real Lawyers will be staging a road show at the Clio Cloud Conference in San Diego next Monday and Tuesday.

Real Lawyers has staged road shows in cities across the United States, Canada and Europe over the last fifteen years.

We’ll be there live video interviewing legal tech entrepreneurs, legal bloggers who are connecting with people and advancing the law, speakers (the likes of whom are not seen at other legal conferences), and attendees.

People’s stories – the highs, the lows, the advances they have made to serve others, and the impact this had on themselves and their families is the stuff that the life is made of.

It’s these stories Real Lawyers is after – to shine a light on our guest and their work.

Real Lawyers, as it always has, will:

  • Conduct interviews on Facebook Live
  • Run the interviews on LexBlog’s YouTube Channel, with a transcript following, on Real Lawyers.
  • Sharing the interviews across Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • With Real Lawyers being a member of the LexBlog network, LexBlog, closing on 30,000 bloggers strong, will run the interviews across its site and via its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Real Lawyers will be on Facebook Live on my Facebook from about 12 ET through 8 ET, each Monday and Tuesday.

We have a number of people scheduled to be on Real Lawyers at Clio. If you are interested in being on, drop me an email, kevin@lexblog.com, or call/text, 206-321-3627. You can also reach LexBlog’s associate editor, Melissa Lin, who is producing Real Lawyers at Clio, at melissa@lexblog.com.

I have really enjoyed my association and friendship with Jack and the Clio team, since the company’s inception.

Clio’s conference is so much more than other legal conferences. Clio Con, as I’ve always called it, focuses on advancing lives for the better. The lives of lawyers and their families and the lives of the people we serve who have no effective access to legal services.

Lawyers leave Clio Con empowered and inspired.

Real Lawyers road show at Clio hopes to capture a slice of the “Clio community and cause” in action. To hear and shine a light on the drive, courage and vision of those bringing change to the business of law, for good.

I hope you’ll feel inspired by watching.

As of Tuesday, Dave Winer, aptly described by the Guardian as the inventor of the blog, has been publishing his own blog, Scripting News, for 25 years.

Leading up to 25 years, Winer shared,

“There were times I took as much as a couple of weeks off, but I usually blogged when I was traveling. I have observations, things I want to write down, basically all the time. I don’t see the blog as work, to me it’s more like a part of living.”

I don’t see the blog as work, but more like part of living.

The same concept applies to thousands of blogging lawyers. The lawyers don’t see their blog as work, their blog is more like part of being a lawyer.

A blog, as widely defined on the web, is a “regularly updated website, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.“

Winer sees a key element of a blog being the unedited voice of a person.

Blogs were originally called weblogs. The reason being that those maintaining a weblog were logging their reading and observations from the web along with their comments and take on what they read.

What better way than blogging for a lawyer to share their observations and take on what they are reading and observing in their niche.

Seems superior to post-it notes stuck to pages of magazines, journals and CLE outlines laying on one’s credenza. Post-it notes and the credenza may have been replaced by computer and net storage, but their value to a lawyer is close to the same.

Enabling peers, clients and potential clients to see your observations and analysis enables greater learning through engagement and establishes a lawyer’s learning, analytical skill, care and expertise.

In the world of “content marketing,” SEO and web traffic, legal blogging may not be part of being a lawyer. Rather than reading, observations and a brief take, something close to an an article, good or bad, is supposedly needed.

Sure, lawyers may enjoy longer posts and find them rewarding, but legal blogging can be part of being a lawyer, as opposed to hard work.

Seattle based Amazon has entered the legal services market for businesses from around the world.

From Amazon’s Dharmesh Mehta head of Customer Trust and Partner Support (“CTPS”), in a post on the company’s Day One Blog:

“[W]e’re excited to launch Amazon Intellectual Property Accelerator (“Accelerator”), a new program that helps brands more quickly obtain intellectual property (IP) rights and brand protection in Amazon’s stores. We created IP Accelerator specifically with small and medium businesses in mind, and IP Accelerator helps these entrepreneurs by making it easier and more cost effective to protect their ideas.”

Amazon acknowledges that expert legal counsel is critical for the protection of brands — and to avoid mistakes in the trademark process, they’ll assemble their own network of law firms.

“IP Accelerator solves this challenge by connecting businesses with a curated network of trusted IP law firms that provide high quality trademark registration services at competitive rates to help brands secure a trademark.”

Lest you think companies selling on Amazon won’t use the network law firms to file trademark applications, the companies who do so will receive preferential treatment from Amazon’s stores.

“Amazon will provide these brands with accelerated access to brand protections in Amazon’s stores, to better protect their brand months, or even years, before their trademark registration officially issues. Brands will benefit from automated brand protections, which proactively block bad listings from Amazon’s stores, increased authority over product data in our store, and access to our Report a Violation tool, a powerful tool to search for and report bad listings that have made it past our automated protections.”

Sonali Nayak, owner of Indigo Paisley, which sells luxury women’s clothing seller on Amazon, is all in.

“We’re very excited Amazon has a list of legal firms that can advise us in our trademark needs. We have struggled finding counsel for trademark specific questions as we are a small company and work with limited budgets. Having the peace of mind that Amazon has vetted these firms and negotiated pricing for us lets us focus on what matters—building our brand.”

Though the law firms are not named, Amazon has apparently chosen and vetted participating IP law firms for experience, expertise, and customer service, and “all have agreed to competitive, pre-negotiated rates for the standard services involved in obtaining a trademark registration.”

Businesses selling on Amazon will pay their law firm at the pre-negotiated rates.

Of note is Accelerator being launched by CTPS which focuses on providing world-class support for Amazon’s selling partners. And at its disposal,

“CTPS has a global team of machine learning scientists, software developers, product managers, associates and investigators that owns this mission across Amazon’s stores worldwide.”

World class customer service from the CTPS law firm network mirrors that of the law firm network established by legal innovator, LegalZoom. LegalZoom is fanatical about customer service looking to reach a Net Promoter Score (NPS) the equal of Apple, Zappos, Amazon and Southwest Airlines. LegalZoom expects the same of its network lawyers to which it refers customers.

Amazon employed machine learning scientists and software developers leveraging Amazon’s wealth of customer data could provide powerful platforms and tech solutions to its network lawyers.

Rumor has had it around Seattle for the last twenty years that Amazon was intrigued by a play in the legal space. The CTPS lawyer network program places things beyond the rumor stage.

What’s it mean for lawyers, even at this early stage?

Building a strong identity in a niche founded on an equally strong network of relationships is becoming critically important. Assuming that by being smart and a good lawyer that you’ll always be paid the likes of today’s salaries by a major law firm may be dangerous.

When Amazon enters legal services it will do so by bringing efficiencies and technology that will eliminate repetitive legal services which have been billed by  the hour. The same billable hour that has been the lynchpin of employing so many lawyers.

What the impact of Amazon’s entry into the delivery of legal services will mean is anyone’s guess. But things are unlikely to ever be the same.

Legal bloggers can blog on Twitter in 280 characters – and blog effectively.

When Twitter was launched, blog publishers often described Twitter as micro-blogging. In fact, American Lawyer Media (ALM) once asked me to do a program at their Legaltech Show on micro-blogging using Twitter.

Blogging, done at its best, is a conversation. You listen to your audience and the subjects in which you have a interest.

By referencing what is being discussed on your blog you are engaging folks, building your influence and nurturing relationships.

By sharing what you are reading/hearing you become a trusted intelligence agent on your niche subject. An intelligence agent is just a step from being hired as a lawyer.

The same can be done on Twitter – though with obviously less analysis and commentary. And with no permanent record by which greater influence and authority is garnered.

I use a news aggregator – Feedly – and Twitter to “listen” to publications (blogs included), people and subjects.

I then share on Twitter what I read, usually with a money quote and comment. I always attribute the source.

The result is a growing audience of legal professionals, tech entrepreneurs, students, academics, reporters and publishers who follow me on Twitter.

These folks have grown to trust me as a good source and somewhat of an authority in the area of legal blogging, publishing and legal tech. Not a bad place to be as CEO of a company involved in all three.

By referencing in my tweet the people whose copy I share and comment upon, I engage them and get to know them. We often connect on LinkedIn on Facebook, and in many cases, meet. Referencing is done by giving an attribute or hat tip (h/t) by including their personal and organization Twitter handle.

The people I then meet are often reporters, bloggers and leaders of law firms, bar associations, corporations, law schools and associations. These folks are often potential customers, but in all cases they influence my customers and LexBlog community members through their writing and engagement with my customers, community members and other influencers.

Rather than dismiss Twitter as a waste of time or using Twitter in a way that is a waste time, try using Twitter for micro-blogging.

You’ll add value to your life by building relationships and establishing yourself as an intelligence in your niche.

The New York Law Journal’s Susan DeSantis reports that it’s survival of the fittest as membership declines in bar associations.

In New York, State Bar President, Hank Greenberg of Greenberg Traurig believes failing technology is the primary reason for his state’s steep membership declines.

From DeSantis:

Membership has been declining since 2012, and Greenberg thinks it’s because the state bar is relying on a website infrastructure that was built in 1998 and outdated since 2008. The failure to evolve digitally reached a tipping point in 2012, he said, dooming the state bar’s chances of attracting the coveted millennial cohort. And dues were raised Jan. 1, 2012.

And Greenberg directly:

There is no single explanation. But what I think is the primary reason for the decline starting in 2012, I would attribute it to the technological challenges affecting communications with our members and potential new members.

At Greenberg‘s impetus, the bar plans to launch state-of-the-art website in December, but he does not see buying tech as enough.

“The digital transformation is not just about buying the right software or having the best website, which we’re doing. But it’s also about changing the culture.”

I interface with bar association leaders and staff on a regular basis in regard to digital publishing and media solutions. They are among the most dedicated and hard working people you’d ever want to meet. Their belief in our legal system and the public it serves is the equal of anyone’s.

Greenberg has a point though in failing digital media technology being used by bar associations – as well as a mindset that needs to change in some circumstances

Communicating with bar members and the public, meaning engaging with them in the way they are engaged by other organizations and companies via digital media is a challenge. Bar budgets and staffing for digital media are tight, at best.

Bars appear to be governed by legal professionals, often practicing lawyers who have little expertise in digital media and online engagement. This can result in demands for a little of this and a little of that, resulting in custom, unwieldy and needlessly expensive digital media solutions.

For example, though LexBlog doesn’t deploy websites enabling direct member interaction with bar associations, we do deploy a SaaS solution for bar digital media and publishing.

As any SaaS provider does, LexBlog provides a platform, including support, with regular feature and core updates coming regularly.

Because of the reduced incremental cost of deploying a SaaS solution with a customized interface and customer selected features, customers receive a superior digital media platform at a tremendous savings in dollars and human resources.

But many bar associations, guided by “a little of this and a little of that” mentality, buy what is basically a custom website using baseline software, which can result in complexities, delays, higher costs and a less than satisfactory experience for all. Worst of all, the site is frozen in time for years.

The outcome can be lesser engagement with members than possible, the inability to showcase the publishing of its members, less engagement with the public so as to increase the relevance of lawyers, increased costs and less revenue.

I only have have experience with bar association digital media and publishing solutions, not the entire range of bar technology, but Greenberg has a point that failing technology and a lagging tech mindset can put bar associations at risk – as to achieving their very worthwhile goals, if not more.

LexBlog’s associate editor, Melissa Lin, shared on Twitter this week a blog post of mine on some of the reasons that lawyers blog – to learn, to join a conversation and to build a community.

To which Josh King, the former general counsel of Avvo and the current general counsel of realself added, “Also makes you a better lawyer.

I have been following King’s blog for years. He has a keen interest in the professional speech regulation of lawyers, and how that regulation may not serve the public interest.

I’ve watched him pick up relevant news stories, whether from traditional media or legal bloggers, dissect the issue, analyze the law and share his commentary. Good stuff. I engaged him and others on many of his posts.

King was doing exactly one of the things we were told in law school, and which the consumer of legal services would like to see in their lawyer, he was staying up to speed in relevant areas of the law.

More than just reading on current developments, King was thinking through the developments, formulating his beliefs on what they meant to his client and the profession, and getting feedback from colleagues through comments through the legal blogosphere and social media.

I watch countless other legal bloggers reach and stay at the top of their game through blogging. Probate litigation, China law, cruise law, food safety law, patent litigation, employment law, Texas appellate law. The list goes on and in.

Blogging lawyers increase their empathy for their audience, their clients and the public. When you blog, you think. You think about what your audience will think and accept from what they’re sharing. Bloggers are “listening as they write.”

Blogging is about learning to giving of yourself, about service to others. The law is all about service.

I am sure there are eighty-five other ways that blogging makes you a better lawyer. I’m interested in hearing how blogging has made you a better lawyer.

Josh Lynch, our CTO, shared with the team last week an update of our product roadmap for this Fall.

Any company obsessed with customers is going to be advancing technology all of the time, especially tech companies where we’re constantly shipping (delivering) software to customers.

Software delivered in the form of core updates, features and user experience enhancements is not always apparent to the user and customer. That may not matter so long as the experience gets better and better.

I suggested to the team though that we get better in sharing what we’re working on and what we’re thinking. Give you a look inside the factory to see what’s going on and to give us a little direction along the way.

As a blogging company filled with bloggers, it’s not like all we have are press releases and a website to “communicate” with you.

Short of detailed explanations, here’s our Fall roadmap.

Roadmap Methodology

A roadmap is a guide, not a detailed project plan, and this is a 666 Roadmap. We are considering the vision of the company (six years), while planning work supporting the vision in Themes (six months), and executing on the current Theme backlog (six weeks). 

In-Progress Roadmap Items

Imagine a “LexBlog Con” where leading legal brands from startups to traditional larger players to law firms are offered the opportunity to connect with legal bloggers. After all, legal bloggers are quickly supplanting reporters and traditional media as the influencers of our legal community.

From a blogger attendee, today, at BlogHer19 in Brooklyn.

There may not be a better way for legal industry companies to connect with the biggest influencers in legal than a conference of legal bloggers, ala LexBlog Con.

LexBlog Con could start as simple as BlogHer did years ago and, as we had discussed for this last year, as a larger meetup of legal bloggers for a day of blogger education and networking.

But instead of thinking “internal” to bloggers, alone, and thinking of sponsors as other legal conferences do, we recognize that we have the most influential people in the legal industry in the form of legal bloggers.

Rather than sponsoring a conference or buying exhibition space at a conference, alone, to reach lawyer attendees, one by one, legal companies and law firms connect with the legal bloggers who reach and connect with virtually the entire legal community.

It’s like inviting legal companies to a conference of news publishers and industry reporters who may then walk away with favorable impressions of the companies and law firms based on relationships formed by connecting and engaging face to face.

Beyond reach, bloggers have trust – perhaps more than reporters, editors and traditional publishers. Bloggers are apt to write in a real and authentic way. Relationships are formed with influencers in their space and trust is established with their audience.

As an alternative to solely spending five, ten or twenty-five thousand dollars on an ad, sponsorship, exhibit space or traditional public relations, legal companies and law firms send some of their principals and leaders to connect as people connect.

Letting people with their own audiences write their own story about your product or service is eighty times more effective than you writing the story and trying to get people to come to your website or press release to read it.

For those not familiar with BlogHer, they’ve been empowering and inspiring women bloggers since 2005. BlogHer has formed a powerful community of women blogging on a countless number of subjects.

Sponsors and attendees at their conferences have included a who’s who of companies including an auto manufacturer who let attendees take their convertibles out for spin.

Blogher’s model may not be to far of a stretch for the law and legal bloggers.

One of the co-founders of BlogHer was Lisa Stone, who was part of founding the Legal Blog Network and Legal Blog Watch while at ALM and Law.com. Stone saw that legal bloggers were “on to something editorially exceptional.”

Stay tuned for more discussion on LexBlog Con. I welcome your feedback and ideas as well.

On today’s anniversary of 9/11, I couldn’t help but to think back on twenty years ago. I draw inspiration from the challenges and adversity we face as a country and the heroes who rise on those occasions to help others – I got it from my Mom.

On 9/11, eighteen years ago today, I was in a Boston hotel across the street from where the five terrorists who flew the American Airlines plane into the first World Trade Center stayed.

I was in Boston after selling Prairielaw.com, a virtual legal community, to LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell. We were in Boston to do usability testing for lawyers.com, a consumer and small business law site which incorporated the community and content we created at Praielaw.com.

My heart was only half in Martindale. My baby and my dream of helping lawyers and the people they served was sold to a large corporation.

Today, thinking of 9/11, makes me wonder why average folks like me can’t rise to the occasion when it comes to the challenges we face as a country. What’s stopping us? We have the technology and the Internet that no one had before us.

One challenge close to my heart and the team working here at LexBlog is legal services being inaccessible to 85% of the people in this country.

The cost of a lawyer is not the deciding the factor for most people, lawyers have simply become irrelevant to people. The vast majority of lawyers aren’t out connecting with people in a real and authentic way. People don’t know lawyers and lawyers don’t know people.

I moved my family to Seattle twenty years ago this last Summer on a mission of creating a virtual legal community of people helping people. Think AOL on the law.

I’d seen as a practicing trial lawyer the power of AOL. Its message boards and chats enabled lawyers to connect with people. An intimate relationship of trust was established.

In just a year our two our small law office helped thousands of people via AOL and the open Internet. In turn, we built a nice reputation and relationships.

It was clear to this guy, who didn’t know a lick about technology, that the Internet could develop business for a lawyer while at the same time the lawyer was out helping people.

With the help of the venture capital community and a great team here in Seattle we got that virtual community up and going. But with its sale and the teams’ being jettisoned by the acquirer, the ability to connect lawyers with people, for good, was lost for a bit.

In due time tough came the realization that blogging enabled lawyers to connect with people. Connections established by listening and engaging in a real and authentic way. Connections founded on a lawyer’s care. Connections that established real trust in a lawyer. Connections that made legal services more accessible.

So came LexBlog, with its mission today of connecting lawyers with people, for good.

People whether a consumer, corporate executive, in-house counsel or small business person. Simply doesn’t matter. Blogging works to connect.

In pursuit of our mission, we’ll continue to do all we can to empower and inspire legal bloggers, worldwide. We’ll empower them them our platform and training. We’ll inspire them by shining a light on them, their blogging and who they are as caring professionals – and people.

We have a ways to go in incorporating existing legal bloggers into the LexBlog community and finding lawyers to cover the hundreds of areas – topic and geographic-wise – not covered by legal blogs today.

The challenge is trivial compared to challenges faced by families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and by the workers who developed life threatening diseases by working the 9/11 site to save others.

LexBlog is making it’s aggregated and curated database of legal blogs freely available to legal research providers (libraries, legal research companies/platforms, AI solutions) via an enhanced RSS feed.

Providers will have open and free access to almost a half a million legal blog posts and an ongoing feed of posts from 1,400 blogs and 23,000 blog authors – and growing by the day.

These blogs include both blogs published on the LexBlog platform as well as blogs published elsewhere. Inclusion is free on LexBlog.com, the source of the feed.

Legal blogs represent the leading source of legal insight and commentary on the law today.

Articles from lawyers, law professors, law students and business professionals in the legal field that used to find their way into law reviews, journals, periodicals, and even books, are now predominately published on WordPress, an open source publishing solution which grew out of blog publishing.

These articles annotated case law, codes and regulations, the things we classify as primary law. It was common practice for lawyers to cite at the trial and appellate level this secondary law as persuasive analysis of primary law – still is, except this secondary law is now generally published on blog software.

The problem (we see as an opportunity) in annotating primary law with secondary law comes from the democratization of the printing press. Legal blog posts come from everywhere, in all sorts of feeds.

As a solution, LexBlog will start offering an enhanced RSS feed of over 400,000 legal blog posts from 1400 sources and 23,000 authors. The authors and daily post count will grow as legal professionals submit their blogs for free inclusion in LexBlog.

The RSS feed allows a partner to pull into their database the following content from a post:

  • <title>
    • Title of the post
  • <link>
    • Link to the original post
  • <date>
    • Date post was published
  • <creator>
    • The author of the post
  • <category>
    • The category of the post
  • <content>
    • The content of the post
  • <source>
    • The Source term associated with the post
  • <organization>
    • The Membership term associated with the post

LexBlog vets blogs so as to limit the feed to credible sources, manages the onboarding of the feeds from the blogs so as to create a clean feed and add additional metadata and sets up/maintains the feed.

The Legal Blog Feed Project is another way in which LexBlog can empower and inspire legal bloggers, as well as contribute to the advancement of the law.

We look forward to seeing partners from legal research, legal libraries, AI and legal research platforms use our free and open feed. We also look forward to their feedback.

Our RSS Terms of Service is posted here.