Blogging is a life changing event for those who take the initiative to share what they are learning in their careers and offer their accompanying insight along the way.

Lawyer, accountant, developer, support professional, salesperson or whomever. It doesn’t matter.

This morning I saw an announcement from Bloomberg that Tax Attorney, Kelly Erb is joining the Bloomberg Industry Group to lead their Tax News Team’s contributed content efforts.

Kelly is your typical young lawyer with a young family who, like me did not graduate from an elite law school.

She started out the Erb Law Firm twenty years ago with no reputation, locally or nationally, as a leading tax attorney.

Today, I’d bet Kelly has all the work she needs, has no worries as to the costs of college education for her kids, can travel to her kids sporting events without worrying about the costs and can take nice vacations with her family.

Much, if not all I am guessing, the result of Taxgirl, a blog she started in 2004 to help people as to the tax information they needed. A blog that has built Kelly a local, state and national reputation along with a ton of relationships.

Imagine how her kids look at at their rockstar mom. Also her husband who rides the arm of a wife who is accomplishing so much.

I shared Kelly’s story with my LexBlog team this morning.

I explained that we don’t develop and support blogs. LexBlog makes dreams come true – for lawyers and for they people they serve.

I shared that if you’re looking to make your own dreams come true, there’s not a better way to do so than through blogging.

Kelly is not a LexBlog customer. I have known her for years as a result of blogging and watched her reputation continue to grow.

Stories like Kelly’s give me goosebumps. I’m serious.

While other lawyers sat on the side lines out of laziness or not believing that blogging, personally, would propel their career, Kelly, armed only with a belief and the willingness to work, achieved what a young lawyer could only dream of.


Does anyone keep track of legal marketing professionals who publish a blog?

I was doing a search in a Facebook Group for legal marketing professionals which I see as a leading knowledge base for legal marketing information and I could not find something that I’m thinking must have been discussed. Appears the search across posts in a Facebook group is not all that good.

The reason I ask if there is a list of legal marketing professionals who are blogging is the knowledge base of legal insight and commentary that would be generated by such blogs. One common knowledge base that could be searched across.

Off the top of my head I was thinking of Heather Morse-Geller, Lindsay Griffiths, Tim Corcoran, Stefanie Marrone, and Nancy Myrland, all legal marketing professionals and bloggers. I am sure there are many such bloggers, and I apologize for not recalling you.

I think the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) is cranking up a Facebook group and inviting folks, but I don’t know that it will soon have the engagement this group has nor will it have the knowledge base. Use of the knowledge base may also be hampered by the Facebook group search.

Blogs published by legal marketing professionals pulled together would seem to create a heck of knowledge base. I get that I am a blog guy, but blogs have stood the test of time for the best insight and commentary on niches.

What about aggregating the knowledge, passion, care and experience that legal marketing professionals have? Growing the number of bloggers sharing their insight on their own publication, which when aggregated would create one heck of a “legal marketing magazine” and library.

LMA’s magazine is of course of value to members and the industry. So are publications by ALM and the like.

But they’re gate controlled, it takes one a while to get published (if they ever are), they would not cover as much and they don’t enable one to leave a legacy in their own name.

Individual aggregated/curated publications could grow reputations leading to career advancement to boot.

Sound crazy?

Maybe you’re following the discussion of the proposed Australian legislation that would require digital platforms such as Facebook and Google into negotiations to establish a price to be paid for news content that appears on their sites.

A lot is at stake in how the world follows on as to Australia and how business models are developed to compensate various parties in this new age of news content circulation.

Binding and mandatory arbitration clauses with awards that may favor news publishers may mot be not be the answer.

As reported by Mike Isaac and Damien Cave in this morning’s New York Times, Google began striking its own deals with media companies such as Reuters, The Financial Times and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Facebook did just the opposite. Facebook turned off users’ ability to share local and international news stories on its social network.

Per Issac and Cave,

Facebook has repeatedly argued that the law gets the value proposition backward because it has said it is the one that provides value to news publishers by sending traffic to media websites, which can then be monetized with advertising.

I tend to agree with Facebook, though we’ve yet to arrive at the right business model.

Historically, The New York Times circulation came via print. Print at a huge expense and print that had to delivered via trucks, newspaper vending machines and the like.

Those costs have largely been eliminated.

In the last ten years, news publishers have benefited in a new way of circulation, people circulating their stories from person to person via social social media platforms.

Social media platforms that do drive readers to news publishers.

I’ve subscribed to the Seattle Times, digital version, because of stories I’ve seen shared on Facebook. I am about to do the same for The Atlantic.

I would never have considered subscribing to either but for Facebook’s demonstrating their value.

Just like we don’t go to the mall to buy everything (or in my case, anything), we don’y get our “print news” the same. Many of us get our news from people we trust, our fellow users – and the algorithms – on social networks.

Because we aren’t going back, it’s just figuring out the business model, not hardball legislation that’s likely to be a loser for all – readers/users, news publishers, and the social networks.

Facebook has turned the lights back on, as Isaac and Cave report.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Vice President of global news partnerships, said in a statement that the social network was restoring news in Australia as “the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.”

Bold statement by Facebook, “…The social network was restoring news in Australia…”

Not far from the truth.

Blogging is still with us, writes Dave Winer, who gave rise to blogging over two decades ago.

Winer points that long time blogger, author and journalism professor, Jeff Jarvis went on CNN today to talk about Australia’s clamping down on social media’s use of news publishers’ content, among other things.

Jarvis is going on with CNN’s Brian Stelter, a former New York Times’ reporter, who got his start in journalism via blogging.

While traditional journalism seems to think blogging is over, per Winer, the evidence is to the contrary. “Blogging reshaped the world. Not only for good, of course.”

Journalism may look at the world as Facebook, and blogging, getting what these platforms have for news, sharing and commentary from traditional news journalism.

The flow can, and does go the other way. Blogs can be the source, as Winer has written many times.

So can social media. I’m on NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams because I am reporting on Twitter and Facebook about midnight vaccines in Seattle because of freezer failure.

Rather than blogging’s genes still being in circulation, as Winer puts it. In the law, I see legal blogs in their infancy. Not just in the States, but worldwide.

Talking with seven lawyers getting ready to blog on a niche, this morning, there was a genuine interest in blogging the right way.

They weren’t chasing SEO, like some law firms. They were looking to offer insight and commentary to the public, to traditional news journalists (who cannot cover the niche), to other bloggers and their clients.

Blogging for them democratized legal journalism. Not only did blogging diversify who was reporting and providing commentary – expanded beyond traditional journalism and the legal publishing giants, but blogging diversified legal publishing to six women who, historically, fell in a group not been given the reigns to run to prominence.

Achieving career heights, being one of the only publishers in a niche, earning significantly more, contributing to secondary law and the sheer fun that comes from being part of journalism while practicing law, will keep legal blogging on the rise, not in the vestiges. 🙂

I am doing a rough survey of international law blogs to assess what’s out there in legal blogs outside the United States. I am just scratching the surface.

My quick take is that legal blogging represents a powerful form of legal publishing, internationally. By country, by the position of the publisher/blogger and by area of the law.

Here’s some early observations as to the blogs:

  • Blogs appear to be more scholarly in nature than in the States
  • Blogs are collegial in nature with an openness towards advancing the law versus demonstrating the expertise of publishers/contributors
  • Blogs are not taking on the form of content marketing, written by hired guns, for search engine performance, their focus is true information and commentary on the law from authorities
  • Blogs can have a large number of contributors, even up to a 100
  • Blogs actively solicit contributions from authorities not associated with the publisher organization
  • Blogs are highly prevalent among law schools
  • I have not searched specific countries, but blogs appear to be worldwide
  • Many list other relevant blogs, making it a point to provide/aggregate the best legal blogs on the subject/locale

From a legal publishing and business opportunity, international legal blogs represent an opportunity that could well exceed the opportunity in the United States. I have yet to look by country, area of the law, associations, law firm etc.

By legal publishing opportunity I am referencing the aggregation/listing of all of the blogs, with the relevant meta-data, and curating the blogs/contributors/publishers for users in various ways. Much the way LexBlog is currently doing so and will do so in the future.

The business model comes from the licensing of LexBlog’s blog publishing solutions. Though not as direct as the aggregation and curation, relationships are at the heart of business development. By providing greater visibility, via LexBlog and elsewhere, we have the opportunity to help contributors and their publishers.

Perhaps most importantly, we’ll be providing greater access to the law, legal information and legal insight (via blogs) to consumers, businesses, legal professionals, academics, students and the courts.

Not just from what currently exists in legal blogs, but from the legal blogging that will ensue by shining a light on the good work that is being done today.

Aggregating and curating international legal blogs is not a short term project.

It will take years, an understanding of international cultural and legal issues, partnerships, working across multiple languages and, I am sure, much more.

From Ariana Pekary in the Columbia Journalism Review,

IF YOU HAVE EVER SEEN ALL THE CABLE NEWS NETWORKS on screens next to each other—at the gym, for example—you’ll have noticed something strange: they all cover the same stories as each other, every day. 

Given that these are separate and competing news organizations, and certainly don’t coordinate with each other, this can be hard to explain. Some topics—such as impeachment, especially on the day of the senate trial—are obvious; others, however, are not. 

Such uniformity devalues the news; provides toxic voices with blanket coverage; and burns out and frustrates journalists, who feel in their bones that sprinting after the same story as everyone else is a fundamentally pointless activity.

Law blogs, traditional legal news and legal scholarship tend to cover the same thing. Different words. Different publishers. But the same news and the same commentary.

A real opportunity for legal bloggers lies in getting outside the same.

Cover a niche that is not already being covered in the country, in your state or your state.

Your blog will be must have reading for lawyers and lay people with an interest on the subject. Your blog will be found in search and in social as the only coverage in your niche, and the topics on the subject.

Unlike the cable news networks, you don’t have to get on a cable, satellite or Internet network to get your blog on the air, distributed and to get seen.

Publish a niche blog and get outside the same.

The LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group will begin hosting weekly discussions to help and empower legal professionals with an interest in blogging.

We’ll begin this Friday at 11 AM PT where I’ll lead a discussion on legal blogging basics. Registration is here and is open to group members and others.

We’ll continue the following week where I’ll lead a discussion on the use of social media in legal blogging.

This group includes members from around the world. We’ll start to have programs in the evening for our members in India and other countries where that would be more convient.

I have no illusions that the discussion willl be vibrant when we start. I may present information for much of the time. As the weeks go by, I hope to have some of the discussion shape the topic for the following weeks.

Thanks.

Hearing what Apple CEO, Tim Cook had to say in a recent speech in Brussels marking International Data Privacy Day has me rethinking the delivery of journalism via algorithms – particularly legal journalism, which is primarily blogging today.

Too many are still asking the question, ‘How much can we get away with?’ When they need to be asking, ‘What are the consequences?’

What are the consequences of prioritizing conspiracy theories and violent incitement simply because of the high rates of engagement?

What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations?

What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users joining extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more?

It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t come with a cause. A polarization of lost trust, and yes, of violence.”

A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe.”

Speech and content on the Internet has been growing geometrically over the last couple decades.

First we had the democratization of publishing with blogging, WordPress and countless other publishing platforms.

Then we had social media which grave rise to commentary on other’s publishing, in addition to short form publishing itself on the social media platforms.

In the law, legal news and commentary, via legal blogging has exploded.

Publishing has been democratized, enabling legal professionals not previously allowed through the gates of traditional publisher to publish on their own.

Tens of thousands of lawyers are publishing on niches never covered by traditional legal publishers.

The legal profession and the public are already relying on search engines and algorithmic driven e-discovery and AI tools to find and discover items of relevance from legal publishing.

I use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all algorithmic-driven, to receive legal industry publishing

I am attracted by the ability of these platforms to drive to me items of value – personally and professionally. Because I use these platforms liberally, I don’t see the junk that others do.

But I am impressed by the quality of news and information some close friends receive from Apple News, self described as world class journalism. World class because of the use of editors, at least in part, to curate the delivery of news and commentary from hundreds of newspapers and magazines.

When it comes to legal blogs, I have always thought that algorithms would be needed at some point. How could we curate the volume of legal blog posts each day. Posts from around the world from thousands of lawyers.

Algorithms can even be more reliable than editors, even lawyers, who cannot match the expertise of niche focused blogging lawyers.

Signals as to what is being read, commented on, liked, cited and engaged – and by whom can tell publishers using algorithms what is likely strong legal news and commentary.

But law – even secondary law and commentary in the form of blogs is important, especially because it drives opinion and discussion on societal issues and influences judicial and legislative decision making.

Important enough that editors will play at least some role in the curation and delivery of legal blogging.

PS – I just resubscribed to Apple News to get a taste for editorial – at least in part – driven news.

The idea that a private company would decide what is free speech and what is not protected free speech under the United States Constitution seems pretty far fetched.

But that’s in effect happening with Twitter banning President Trump and his like minded cohorts from their social media platform.

From Twitter on January 8:

After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence

In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open. 

However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.

It’s easy for some to dismiss Twitter as just a social media platform, it doesn’t control speech. In addition, Twitter’s a private company, they can decide what’s tolterated on their platform per their terms of service.

But Twitter is in essence a town square for public discussion, commentary and information/news dissemination. Where do go after Twitter if you want to be heard? We haven’t heard much from Mr. Trump of late.

Shouting fire in a crowded theater is a paraphrase of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in his analogy for speech or actions made for the principal purpose of creating panic in the US Supreme Court case of Schreck v US.

The case was later partially overturned by Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action, a riot.

A pretty strong case can be made that President Trump’s speech was likely to incite imminent lawless action, or a riot. A riot that killed five and threatened much worse.

That’s not the point. What President Trump did was awful.

The point is that growth of social media in the last ten years has handed Jack and his team at Twitter the bench to decide what is free speech or unprotected speech.

With Congress pressuring social media companies to further police expression on their platforms, we may have private companies further policing free speech in this country.

I totally get that we have a problem with people inciting riots and worse via social media.

I just have to believe Justice Holmes would be mighty surprised that 102 years after the Supreme Court decided the limits of free speach in his decision that the country has deferred to Twitter to decide such things.

Looking to keep up with other social media companies that enable publishers to earn money from their followers and and the growing popularity of newsletters, Twitter announced today that it acquired an email newsletter services Revue.

https://twitter.com/revue/status/1354036531208577024?s=21

Spending in advertising has plummeted of recent, in in large part because of the pandemic. Publishers with good followings looking for new sources of revenue to stay afloat are finding it in paid subscriptions.

Some elite publishers using the larger email publishing platform, Substack, which allows for paid subscribers, are replacing their ad revenue, altogether, with subscriptions.

The New York Times’ Kate Conger, reporting on the Revue acquisition, shares that late last year Twitter was even considering the purchase of Substack.

Revue, based in the Netherlands, has six employees and plans to operate independent of Twitter for now.

Should blogging lawyers or lawyers, in general, look to platforms such as Revue or Substack as a source of revenue for the commentary and information they are sharing?

Not really, unless you have already achieved rockstar status in publishing or otherwise.

David Lat, the founder of Above the Law and now publishing a new email publication is an example of such a rockstar for which paid subscriptions may be possible.

As a lawyer, you already have a revenue stream from publishing. Getting paid for legal services you render will generate far more for you than email subscription revenue will.

Focus on the strategic publishing of your niche blog, with the ancillary use of social media, to build a name and relationships. It’ll take time to master the skill, but it’ll pay better than learning how to grow subscription revenue.

Lawyers should also always look at the business model of the service or platform they are going to use,.

For Revue and Substack, it’s generating money through subscriptions for email publishers. That’s where these publishing platforms are focusing their development work.

Such a model is not directed towards lawyers getting work by word of mouth and relationships. The platforms’ evolution and feature development will focus on helping users with other goals.

Could there be something of value to publishing lawyers coming from Revue? It’s possible when you read between the lines of what Twitter shared in a blog post, reported on by Conger.

“Twitter is uniquely positioned to help organizations and writers grow their readership faster and at a much larger scale than anywhere else,” Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of product, said in a blog post announcing the deal. “Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers, while also helping readers better discover writers and their content.”

The biggest story in all of this, for now, may be get five smart and hard working friends who are willing to work for almost nothing, work your tails off on a hot niche and make enough of a splash to get acquired by a multi-billion dollar tech company in San Francisco.