I saw in my feeds yesterday that Arizona Attorney, Jill Wiley, had been named the new chair of the board of Meritas, a global alliance of independent law firms.

Word of Wiley’s appointment came from an Asian business publication, which by being an influential publication has its stories syndicated by Google News.

I subscribe to the word “Meritas” to see news about Meritas. Why?  Meritas is a network of almost 8,000 lawyers in 200 law firms in 90 countries and 245 markets. When you’re a publishing company like LexBlog, Meritas leaders and members are the folks with whom you’re looking to build relationships.

Seeing the announcment I wanted to give a “kudos” about Wiley’s appointment to Meritas, Wiley and her law firm, Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw & Villamana.

It’s easy to do via Twitter by including the Twitter handle of Wiley, her firm and Meritas in my Twitter shoutout. They’d each get an email and notice on Twitter about my tweet, it’s like a virtual handshake.

Problem was that neither Wiley nor her firm use Twitter. Forget failing to use an information and news medium that lawyers and their clients use, what a lost opportunity for leveraging Wiley’s role with Meritas.

  • Leaders in associatons need to stay relevant to membership. By sharing info helpful to law firm leaders as well as Meritas news, Wiley could establish trust and a growing relavence of Meritas across its membership.
  • Create a Twitter list of Meritas law firms and its lawyers usng Twitter. Mertias and its leaders could re-tweet the things these folks are proud of.
  • Create easy to use feeds monitoring the firm members’ names. Again, shout-out news about them.
  • Wiley and her firm’s clients see all this interaction with lawyers and law firms around the world. Members of other legal networks see the news and information shared, the interaction and the relationships built between Meritas lawyer/law firm members. Wow.

These ideas are just off the top of my head. I am sure there are other ways to use Twitter for busness relationships and growing network membership.

No time? Too complicated? Ethical issues? You’re really saying I am not going to move forward with innovation nor am I going to go out where the people are, where they communicate.

This stuff is pretty easy and takes minutes.

It’s not my point to dump on Wiley, her firm or Meritas. My point applies to any network or association leader.

By and large, such folks are absent from Twitter and are trying to grow membership and remain relevant to the members they have with the same methods used thirty years ago.

So many opportunities for leaders with Twitter.

Are you a law blogger in Houston? Or a Texas law blogger who will be in Houston for the bar’s annual meeting. It would be my honor to tell your story.

I’ll be in Houston from Wednesday evening through late Friday afternoon. I’d welcome meeting for coffee or a pint for a Facebook Live Interview.

Nothing daunting. Nothing to prepare for. I’m just interesting in how you got started blogging, how it has gone for you, what blogging has meant to you and what you’ve learned along the way. Maybe learn a little about you and what you do as a lawyer.

I find the stories inspiring and so do other lawyers out there blogging or considering blogging.

Text/call my cell phone (206-321-3627) or email me.

Thanks and please spread the word, Houstonian – and Texans.

We are seeking someone with passion to become our Communications and Marketing Lead.

Working with company leadership, team members and external resources, you will develop, lead and execute all internal and external communications and marketing, reaching people and organizations, worldwide.

This is not a position for someone seeking the monotony of a larger organization. You will be challenged to work outside your comfort zone in order to grow professionally and personally. We will support you and provide opportunities for growth because we believe in helping our team members realize their potential and dreams.

Responsibilities include:

  • Live and communicate LexBlog’s values, internally and externally. Our values enable team members to act with “Integrity in the Moment of Choice” and our audience to know us.
  • Own and present the LexBlog brand, internally and externally.
  • Develop and lead an authentic social media plan, calling on the talent, energy and personal involvement of the entire LexBlog team.
  • Develop and execute your own personal brand via social media, conferences and business relationships.
  • Develop, recommend, and lead company communications and marketing plans.
  • Increase recognition of the company and our products.
  • Work closely with our sales team so that they may help you, and you them.

You will own this role if:

  • You like having fun
  • You like growing
  • You like working with company leadership on a regular basis
  • Have a ton of energy
  • Have a passion for social media, no matter the form
  • You are organized and systematic to a fault
  • You like people and enjoy meeting new people
  • You are a good writer
  • You know done is better than perfect
  • You do what it takes

About LexBlog

Founded in 2004 to empower lawyers to increase their visibility and accelerate their business relationships through blogging, LexBlog is the hub that brings together many of the best legal minds on the web. Its publishing platform, offered as software as a service (SaaS), powers more than 15,000 legal bloggers and over half of the nearly 1,500 blogs published by the 200 largest U.S. law firms. By expanding LexBlog to blogs not published on its platform, LexBlog is building the largest and most comprehensive legal news and information network in the world.

Look forward to talking with you. Drop an email to kevin@lexblog.com or  jobs@lexblog.com.

PS - LexBlog believes in hiring PhD’s* (poor, hungry and driven).

* “We’re not talking about people being poor economically. We’re talking about being poor in terms of knowledge, about people who are constantly searching to learn more, to find more wisdom. And hungry in this context refers to those with a tremendous desire to succeed, people who won't ever be satisfied with an ordinary level of accomplishment. And driven people are the ones who set ambitious goals and then pursue them with real ferocity.” - Mario Gabelli

The CEO of LexisNexis, Mike Walsh received a letter this last week from Michael Best’s James Fieweger, a former Asssiatant U.S. Attorney skilled in criminal and state and federal investigations.

A letter accusing Walsh’s company of anticompetitive sales practices and asking that it cease those practices and enter into a dialog with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) leaders, “as opposed to legal or commercial action.”

AALL is the only national association dedicated to the legal information profession and its professionals. Founded over a century ago on the belief that people —lawyers, judges, students, and the public—need timely access to relevant legal information to make sound legal arguments and wise legal decisions.

Its almost 5,000 members are problem solvers of the highest order from major law firms, law libraries, law schools and various state, federal and municipal bodies. AALL fosters the profession by offering its members knowledge, leadership, and community that make the whole legal system stronger.

What won’t LexisNexis talk about with these 5,000 customers and their representatives? LexisNexis’ practice of tying alleged lesser products to products in greater demand. Want the later, buy the former too.

As LexBlog’s editor-in-chief and publisher, Bob Ambrogi reports:

…[F]irms have historically been able to purchase from LexisNexis the publications and services that fit their needs. They could, for example, purchase specialized materials such as Moore’s Federal Practice, various treatises, or analytical tools such as Lex Machina, without having to license Lexis Advance.

No more says LexisNexis, per Fieweger,

Since July 2017, however, AALL has received numerous reports from law firm-affiliated members that LexisNexis has adopted a new sales policy. Under the new policy, firms are required to purchase a license to Advance before they can purchase access to other LexisNexis publications and products. And those firms that do not wish to purchase Advance, for whatever reason, have been foreclosed from accessing other products they have used in their practice for years and, in some cases, for decades.

AALL has attempted to discuss this potentially illegal tying arrangement, but as the letter to Walsh states, “to date, LexisNexis’ response has been vague, incomplete, and unsatisfactory, evincing no interest or intent to revoke or otherwise modify the practice in question.”

We’re not talking small law firms that LexisNexis is kissing off.  Jean O’Grady, senior director of information, research and knowledge services at DLA Piper and former chair of the Private Law Libraries Section of AALL, reports from her blog that she’s seen LexisNexis take “an increasingly combative stance” in contract negotiations with customers like her firm.

Greg Lambert, chief knowledge services officer at Jackson Walker, shares on his blog, that what LexisNexis is doing in tying Advance and other products such as Law360 is going to serve as a wake up call to firm leaders that LexisNexis is harming the industry and is only trying to prop up a product that cannot stand on its own.

If LexisNexis were talking and listening to its customers, they’d not be exerting this “kiss off, we’ve got a monopoly” approach.

It’s not just at the sales and business development level where LexisNexis folks are refusing to talk, it’s an attitude that’s top down from company leadership.

I’m not sure I know what Mike Walsh looks like, let alone have I ever read one of his blog posts, mutually shared thoughts with him on Twitter or engaged him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

If not Walsh, who then in LexisNexis leadership engages folks on the Internet. Who develops trust for the company? Who gets out and shows that the company cares? Who from LexisNexis has engaged leaders in the library and knowledge field enough that that these folks enjoy taking your call or having a drink with you at next month’s AALL annual conference.

I get it. “I’m the CEO. I’m the Executive VP of Sales. I don’t have time to get out and engage customers and their influencers such as O’Grady and Lambert on the Internet. I don’t even know how. I have marketing and communications folks handling that.”

What you’re really saying is that I am going to push, trick, and cajole our mediocre products into your hands at as a high a price as a I can get. If that doesn’t work, I’ll force you to take my mediocre stuff by tying it to stuff you really want.

Those days are dead. Marketing and selling today is an online conversation establishing trust and relationships.

It would be great to see Walsh at the AALL annual mingling with customers. Perhaps set up a time to field questions.

Ambrogi is the leading reporter and commenator in legal tech and innovation. He’s known and trusted by AALL members.  I’m sure Ambrogi would be happy to sit down with Walsh for an interview on Facebook Live or otherwise.

In face of what O’Grady calls a revolt by the AALL, “LexisNexis should open up about its policies,” says Ambrogi. “Neither it nor its customers are well served by its keeping its lips sealed.”

Ambrogi’s right. LexisNexis owes the legal profession that much.

The vanity marketing for lawyers is a huge one.

The latest entry comes from  U.S. News & World Report which announced in a press release last week that, in partnership with Best Lawyers, it is releasing an online legal directory of lawyers.

The directory will start with less than 100,000 lawyers, but will eventually include over 1.3 million private-practice lawyers. It is not clear whether law firm and bar association sites will be “scrapped” to get lawyer listings or whether the directory listings are being supplied by Best Lawyers. Law firms can, of course, supply information and there is a FAQ on the site for more info.

Client reviews will not be included, unless a lawyer pays $30 a month for a premium profile.

Best Lawyers media relations manager, Katie Morgan, tells the ABA Journal, lawyers can delete the reviews they don’t like, “and decide which ones, if any, to publish on their profile,”

In addition to being able to publish favorable reviews, lawyers paying the $30 a month may display rankings and awards with their profile in “ an ad-free experience.” Presumably this means that ads from competing lawyers and law firms will be sold around the directory listings of non-paying lawyers.

Lawyers will pay for this listing. The more directory listings the better for many lawyers. The more online walls to hang their plaques and awards. Better yet, for $30 a month, you get a valuable link back to your website for SEO. A link from an influential news authority like U.S. News was.

The press release says the comprehensive guide will serve as a valuable resource for consumers seeking legal assistance. But how valuable is the information to people and businesses when selecting a lawyer?

Tim Smart, executive editor of U.S. News, says:

U.S. News helps millions of people each year make complex decisions, from finding the right hospital or doctor to identifying the best college, online program or graduate school. We’re delighted to team up with Best Lawyers to offer our audience new legal resources.

U.S. News bills itself as “the global authority in rankings and consumer advice.” Best Lawyers® bills itself as “the world’s only purely peer-review™ guide to top talent in the legal profession.”

“The global authority” and “the world’s only purely peer-review.” I don’t know.

And look at the standard for lawyers getting into the directory.

Inclusion in the Lawyer Directory is solely based on whether an attorney is currently working in private practice. A lawyer does not need to be ranked by U.S. News or Best Lawyers to appear on the site, and there is no charge for a lawyer’s basic information to appear in the U.S. News Lawyer Directory.

A lawyer in private practice needs to be breathing to qualify for inclusion in the directory.

Where does it stop and couldn’t we, as lawyers and law firms, do better?

I get the need for directories – maybe. But more of them? And to cast your directory as special and authoritative, which this one doesn’t appear to be.

As a lawyer, why not use the Internet in a little more constructive way – by helping businesses and individuals and building a name for yourself – rather than buying vanity.

Legal tech and innovation conferences universally bill themselves as bringing the best and brightest together to discuss and advance innovation and technology.

Some say their conference will break down the silos and build connections across a fragmented industry, where everyone across the country and the world is well intentioned, but not collaborating.

Others say they’ll bring together the industry’s leaders, innovators and peers to collaborate so as to bring greater access to legal services.

All good, but only a tiny fraction of the industry’s leaders attend. And don’t get me started on the “leaders,” who with their public relations people, pay to be included on a panel or two.

When I have contacted legal tech and innovation conferences this year, I don’t recall any being live streamed. One was, but they were charging (I got free access as widely followed on social media, others did not).

If the conferences truly believed in their mission to advance legal innovation and technology — and to bring the industry leaders together for greater collaboration, they’d live stream their event and make it available for free.

Live streaming is not one of those things that you throw off till next year because of the complications. Live stream via an iPhone and iPad on Facebook Live – for free. It’s not hard.

Most conferences have an expensive recording crew manning expensive recording equipment for videos that will or may be available later on. When is later on? Do hundreds of industry leaders who did not attend call, and presumably pay, for videos a month or two after the conference?

I was at an Avvo confernce in 2017 attended by 700 pepople that was live streamed to the world via Facebook Live by one person using an app call Switcherstudio. I believe he used a couple iPads and an iPhone so he could do split shots and zoom in on slides.

Your Facebook Live video would be posted immediately after its live presentation. You can also “pull” it from Facebook and publish it to YouTube. The YouTube embed will allow you to have the session videos on your site by the end of the day.

You want to go really wild, you spend a hundred and fifty bucks and you get all the videos transcribed with the transcripts posted to your site by the next day.

Ideas, minds and innovation live far beyond the four walls of a conference center or hotel ballroom. Why wouldn’t you want to include those minds? Why wouldn’t you want instant collaboration with those minds via social media.

Open things live online and you’ll attract the thinking of those not viewed as “the leaders” and those who don’t have the money for flights and hotel rooms.

You open up thinking to those world-wide. The legal tech and innovation community in the U.S., other than those selling products overseas, is pretty myopic. The U.S. is a small place when talking tech. Live stream and you’ll get people watching and participating from around the world.

If you’re thinking that you can’t live-stream for free as it will cost you paying attendees, that’s plain dumb. If anything your conference will be talked about more ahead of time and afterwards, only increasing attendance in year one and subsequent years.

If you’re an association such as a bar assoction or other network where propfessionals pay dues, you owe it to members to live stream. You’ll also make yourselves more relevant.

Most importantly, we have a lot at stake here. 85% of people in the U.S. alone have no access to the delivery of legal services. And it’s not all about costs. It’s more about getting a functioning legal system out where people are – online and using innovative technology.

Presuming that by throwing “leaders” into conference rooms and having them go out for dinner and drinks (I enjoy it as much as anyone) is the fastest way to cross the chasm on the delivery of legal services is a little short-sighted. We need all hands on deck in an easy and effective way. Live streaming helps do that.

If you’re having a legal tech and innnovation conference, you, more than anyone, need to demonstrate your grasp of technology and innovation. You need to be liive streaming via Facebook Live.

Skimming through my Twitter legal feeds this afternoon I am struck by the webinars and podcasts on SEO for law firms. SEO demystified. The basics of SEO for lawyers. You name it.

If a Martian came down to earth (they soon will), they’d think the only way lawyers could get work was via something called SEO.

Anyone sharing good insight and commentary online should have their content found on search. That’s a given – and it will.

SEO, no matter what anyone says, is not overly complicated. You need to express insight and commentary (think write in a knowing and authentic fashion), index your content well for the search engines (primarily Google), and grow your influence.

I get that there are 83 other things you may want to worry about and work on from magic key words to meta description to local search.

But at the end of the day, for lawyers, aren’t we really talking about who has the better billboard, yellow page ad, television ad or radio ad? Who’s ad works better? Who pays the most to generate the most leads?

Don’t get me wrong, I bought plenty of ads as a plaintiff’s trial lawyer.

I just found the Internet a great way to avoid advertising. The Internet allowed guys like me in small towns to be one of those “real lawyers,” a “lawyer’s lawyer” and get a reputation and the cases I could have only dreamed of before the net.

So almost two decades into SEO for lawyers, it’s getting old seeing SEO being repeatedly pitched and bought when the Internet allows good lawyers, no matter their law school, no matter where they are located and no matter their resources to make a name for themselves.

I understand advertising is important for many lawyers. I also understand there are some very capable outfits helping lawyers with their SEO so as to deliver on the needed advertsing.

I just don’t understand every lawyer and every promoter of podcasts or webinars getting sucked into the tiring SEO for lawyers game.

This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of WordPress.

What started with the release of open source publishing software by Matt Mullenweg, then a freshman at the University of Houston, and a friend has grown to power over 30% of the top sites on the web.

Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg are known by nearly all for their disruption. But Mullenweg, with WordPress, is right with them.

Fifteen years ago ago, I was six months away from toying around with web publishing (blogging) in my garage. The concept of publishing to the web by everyone had been realized by few back then.

Little off the shelf publishing web software was available. Heck, I’m not sure many folks could see why they would even need it.

Few people were publishing blogs, mainstream publishers kept their monopoly with expensive proprietary publishing software and marketers and public relations agencies had yet to coin the phrase “content marketing” to save their jobs.

A short fifteen years later and Mullenweg’s original goal has been reached, publishing has been democratized. There’s other publishing software, much proprietary, but without WordPress, digital publishing, the heart of how we publish today, would not be at the disposal pf everyone.

WordPress powers 30% of all Websites in the world. WordPress powers 70% of all websites with a “content management solution” – that’s sites that are publishing.

No matter how you cut, that is extraordinary growth. Start from zero and run 70% of all web publishing in fifteen years.

Did Bill Gates and ‘Word’ close on “WordPerfect” word processing software that fast?

We’re going to see the day when WordPress is ubiquitous. When virtually all web publishing will be run on WordPress. Those who doubt it think back to those saying WordPerfect was better.

I may not have started LexBlog on WordPress but we’d not be empowering legal professionals, students and legal tech companies to shape the future of legal reporting and publishing without it.

LexBlog is but a drop in the WordPress bucket. Per Mullenweg:

There’s so much: A group of high school students bands together to build a national movement on WordPress; a president builds the foundation for his own next chapter on WordPress; the current WhiteHouse.gov switches over; or when someone like Hajj Flemings brings thousands of small businesses onto the open web for the first time, with WordPress.

And the key to it all is open source. WordPress, the legal profession and the web would not where it is today without Mullenweg’s and WordPress’ commitment to open source development.

Many in the open source world are like Moses in that they speak of the Promised Land but will never set foot there. If I spend the rest of my life working and we don’t reach almost all websites being powered by open source and the web being substantially open, I will die content because I already see younger generations picking up the banner.

LexBlog has the best WordPress development team anywhere upgrading and adding features to our core product. New aggregation and syndication products are being developed on WordPress. We’re being challenged by bar associations to develop a do it yourself website solution to sit on our WordPress platform.

All on WordPress and the best may be yet to come from WordPress’ Gutenberg release later this year.

Thanks for fifteen years, Matt. Here’s to the next fifteen.

A television lawyer groupie like I was during the OJ Simpson trial has to be pretty pumped to see ABC News’ Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams keynoting Avvo’s Lawyernomic’s 2018, which kicks off Tuesday morning in Las Vegas.

Abrahams covered the Simpson trial for Court TV, one of the channels I flipped through, with Gerry Spence on CNN and CNBC and Greta Van Susteren also on CNN. I learned more from these lawyers than I learned in law school and CLE’s. I also learned a lot about working with the media as a lawyer – something extremely helpful as a trial lawyer.

Serving as a legal analyst for the media for twenty five years, Abrams will provide insights into the pulse of consumer legal news today.

He’ll also discuss how independent publishing by lawyers (blogging and content marketing) can be a powerful tool in breaking down complex legal issues and connecting current and prospective clients with accessible legal solutions.

With a career in public service spanning three decades and a background in practicing law, Wendy Davis will share her passion for advocacy and her insights into the socially conscious consumer.

Davis is a former Texas state senator, a candidate for governor of Texas and the founder of Deeds Not Words, an advocacy initiative that empowers women and champions equal rights, education, and social justice for minority and LGBTQ communities.

Avvo founder and it former CEO, Mark Britton, will speak on the current and future state of the legal industry, and building connections between consumers and lawyers.

As the consumer market becomes increasingly segmented – by social behaviors, media consumption, device usage, and so on – it’s more important than ever that lawyers understand the needs of legal consumers. By building connections with industry experts and peers, lawyers can stay ahead of these changing demands and better serve their clients.

Beyond keynotes, Lawyernomics has a heck of lineup presenting educational sessions on client relations, reputation management, content marketing, blogging, social media, practice management, SEO and legal technology as well as interactive demonstrations of the latest Avvo products for lawyers in an onsite Avvo Lab.

Picking up on what other smart conferences have done, Lawyernomics is offering attendees expanded learning and networking discussions with presenters and thought leaders – I should have brought a LexBlog t-shirt to wear to lead a thought leader discussion.

With Internet Brands acquisition of Avvo, it’s to hard to know if Lawyernomics will continue. With few, if any conferences focused exclusively on marketing for consumer and small business, the opportunity is there. An announcment of next year’s conference would put the question to rest.

In the brief time I was at Martindale-Hubbell (then owner of lawyers.com), I pitched doing conferences for lawyers as a business development opportunity for us. They declined. Perhaps one of the reasons that Britton and Avvo wiped them out.

Looking forward to a couple nice days of seeing business friends and staying abreast of business development actives in individual and small business focused law.

Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.

This from Richard Granat, a true champion when it comes to harnessing innovation and technology to improve American’s access to legal services.

Granat shared this in a Facebook comment in reference to society’s leaving it to lawyers and lawyer controlled bar associations to decide how legal services are delivered in this country.

By and large, it’s bar associations that decide what innovation and legal technology gets used in the delivery of legal services. Not a great situation for the public when bar associations exist to represent the interests of lawyers who earn by time, not efficiency.

Granat is not alone.

Gillian Hadfield, a leading proponent of the reform and redesign of legal systems and a Professor at USC Law School, commented this week on bar associations limiting access to legal services in, of all places, the American Bar Association’s Law Technology Today magazine.

A week ago, Mary Juetten, co-founder of Evolve Law and founder and CEO of Traklight, a self-guided IP strategy platform, wrote about bar associations driving small legal tech companies out of business on the pretense that legal tech business models violate the unauthorized practice of law rules.

Juetten questioned what the bar associations were actually protecting.

I have some great friends working with and for bar associations. LexBlog has the honor of working with any number of bar associations.

But should bar associations be deciding what is and what is not legal services that require a lawyer? Are bar associations, by restricting what they describe as legal services to being administered by lawyers, just making lawyers more and more irrelevant to individuals and small businesses?

Is it possible that bar associations by looking to protect lawyers are actually hurting lawyers? With less people looking for legal services administered the way they are, there is less and less work for lawyers. We’re already seeing less lawyers.

While the American Bar Association and state bar associations look to be the hub of discussion on access to legal services, and even innovation and legal technology, there is a growing sentiment that bars may be the reason for the increasing chasm we have in access to legal services.

Robert Ambrogi, LexBlog’s editor-chief and publisher and former editor of the National Law Journal, explained a couple months ago to a Chicago gathering of legal professionals discussing an effort to bring access to legal services, that the American Bar Association and many bar associations could not lead the effort because of their role as a trade organization.

Juetten may well be right that it’s not an “either or” situation, as she tweeted immediately after I published my post. In the absence of another body, bar associations could include non lawyers and private companies on their governing boards.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m with Granat. “Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.