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Law blog brings public into law office cockpit

Globetechnology reports Microsoft quietly launched a new site that combines blogs, discussion forums and other technology to improve communications with developers. Channel 9 was created by a group of engineers and “technology evangelists” at Microsoft that is convinced the software giant could do more to promote free discussion with outside developers. The name refers to the audio channel most airlines use to allow passengers to listen in on conversations between flight crew members.

“We think developers need their own channel 9, a way to listen in to the cockpit at Microsoft, an opportunity to learn how we fly, a chance to get to know our pilots,” according to a welcome message posted by the site’s creators. “Five of us in Redmond are crazy enough to think we just might learn something from getting to know each other. … Join in, and have a look inside our cockpit and help us fly the plane.”

Read on to learn more and how the concept could be applied to a lawyer blog.

Globetechnology’s report continues:

Initial content on the site includes video and audio clips of Microsoft developers musing on subjects from security to .Net architecture, ordinary blogs and snapshot-filled mobile blogs, discussion forums devoted to developer issues and a collection of “wiki” forums for sharing code and ideas. Initial submissions include a spirited dialogue on punctuation.

Many Microsoft employees are active bloggers, but the practice has gotten at least one worker in trouble. Long-time contract worker Michael Hanscom was fired last year after his blog ran photos of Apple computers being delivered to Microsoft’s main campus.

Site rules emphasize courtesy, thoughtfulness and refraining from mercantile behavior. “Channel 9 is all about the conversation,” according to the posted rules. “Channel 9 should inspire Microsoft and our customers to talk in an honest and human voice. Channel 9 is not a marketing tool, not a PR tool, not a lead-generation tool.”

The Channel 9 site arrives amid a welter of Microsoft efforts aimed at bolstering support among developers. The software giant is hosting a conference this week for 1,500 Most Valuable Professionals, a program for outside software experts who assist in providing support through on-line forums.

Is there a profession that communicates any less than the public at large than lawyers? I think not.

Less than one in five Americans have a favorable impression of our legal profession. The ABA study which documented this fact found principal causes of this unfavorable impression to be lawyer’s failure to communicate with the public, distasteful lawyer advertising that and the public’s lack of understanding of what lawyers do. The public does not a chance to listen in our cockpits and lawyers tend to work on keeping it that way.

Could blogs be used to allow the public to listen in our cockpit’s, improve our image and bring in new clients? I think so.

A good lawyer blog not only provides substantive info of help to people but tells about matters the lawyer is working on (without disclosing confidences, of course), questions the lawyer has answered for folks and anything else to start to bring down those walls between the lawyer and the public. In addition the blog will generate some discussion with the public. The lawyer looks personable and approachable. The lawyer is sticking out like a sore thumb as compared to 99.9% of lawyers who never let their hair down and interact with the public. The lawyer is not only going to get new clients but is going to learn things about public concerns the lawyer would have never thought of. The result is a better lawyer who is also learning how to improve their marketing.

Sure, blow it off. What does Microsoft know about marketing? I say lawyers should learn from innovators in business. Have a few lawyers in your office begin to blog just like the developers at Microsoft. There is no law that says someone needs to be a tech geek to blog.

Go for it – let the public listen in on your law office.

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