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Associate lawyers not allowed to blog?

I have been asked to address the question of whether associate lawyers should be permitted to blog. I need to preface my comments by telling you that this concern makes as much sense to me as whether law firms should permit women lawyers or lawyers of Asian or African descent to blog. But I have been asked the question when doing a presentation for a group of law firm marketing folks and I have been asked for my comments via a comment added to my post announcing lexBlog.

Read on to see the question and my reponse.


Here’s the question posted in the comment:

…[O]ne issue which associate lawyers may face is that of “authority to blog”, that is, the authority from their firm to publish legal updates etc. As a lawyer, I have no problem with it, but as you’ll know, not all partners are so minded, let alone technically conversant; some would probably resist individual employed lawyers posting to their own blogs, whether or not expressly associated with the firm, for fear of a loss of control or fear of too greater free release of know-how. I think blogs are here to stay, that the benefits of free release of a measure of know-how far outweigh the perceived disadvantages and that the greater use of blogs by lawyers is both positive and inevitable, but would be interested in your views on this issue.

My response (biting my tongue):

As far as associate blogging, the issue you raise is a valid one – not that associates should not be permitted to blog, but that some closed minded, short sighted partners or administrators will not like associates expressing themselves freely. I have addressed this question on the net before and in a presentation to a group of law marketing people.

For me, I believe in hiring talented people and empowering them by turning them loose. If I hire someone who is smart enough to get two degrees, undergrad and law, and pass a bar exam you would think I would allow the person to speak in public. Heck, they are speaking in court, talking with clients, speaking at seminars, writing articles and a lot more. They are representing the firm in all they do. Blogging is just an extension of that. The last thing I want to do is tell an employee I do not have confidence in them so as to stifle their innovation and desire to learn through collaboration.

If I am a partner and have an associate who is willing to spend the time blogging on a niche area, which I should know is going to bring in more work, I would be asking how do I help them.

Another issue is whether something that is said on the blog can be used against the firm later as way of precedent. I supposed anything can be tried, as we lawyers get paid to be creative, but I cannot recall in my 17 years of practice a lawyer using a seminar presentation or article against a fellow lawyer.

Make any sense?

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