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Our soldiers are blogging, can lawyers learn something?

Sunday’s San Diego Union-Tribune had an excellent story about soldiers in the field telling their stories in near-real time online via blogs.

I am hesitant to even report on the soldier’s blogs out of respect for what they are doing and to even hint that what soldiers are blogging about is remotely similar to what lawyers blog about. But I found the story and what the soldiers were covering to be very moving and wanted to share it with you. I also thought there some things lawyers could learn from our soldiers.

Some soldiers’ blogs run from diaries of everyday activities letting family members know they are safe. Others cover, without reaching items of security concerns, what they are doing as part of their job as a soldier. One soldier, a lawyer, covers cases that he has to handle involving Iraqi citizens seeking compensation for injuries. Coverage on that one in particular is moving.

What the lawyers have to say about their blogs is telling. Captain Eric Magnell, the lawyer and publisher of Dagger JAG, says “I just wanted to share what life over here is like for me and the soldiers I work with. Part of it is also a desire to share a perspective of what is happening over here that is outside of the mainstream media.”

Sean Dustman, a Navy corpsman who runs two blogs, a text diary, Doc in the Box and a photo blog, said “There is no real message behind my blog or photo page, except for saying we’re regular people out here, too.”

Couldn’t we, as lawyers, learn something from why these soldiers blog? Why couldn’t we share a perspective of what is happening in our practice of law, something that rarely receives coverage in the media? Why couldn’t we share our experiences just to show we are regular people too? We could and we should.

Lawyer blogs rarely talk of what the lawyer does for a living day in and out. The best lawyer blogs, in my opinion, help people by sharing practical legal information and insight into the law for benefit of consumers, business people or colleagues – whoever the lawyer represents in their day to day to day practice.

Other lawyer blogs report on matters outside the law of interest to the lawyer, almost as social activity or relaxation – perhaps needed to keep one’s sanity while practicing law.

Please consider blogging about what may appear to be mundane. The struggles some of your clients face. The efforts you put in to help them. The stress created by wishing you could perform miracles but having to be pragmatic. If soldiers can find the time during the stress of military activity you can find some spare time.

Certainly there are ways to do this without breaching confidences. This stuff will not be covered by the media and will show average Americans that we lawyers are real people too.

Lawyers play a huge role in our society. We’re the folks who make the legal system work or fail to work. This legal system is what this country is founded upon.

It’s important that people understand what we do and the struggles we face. Perhaps then, people will respect our profession a little more – not for our selfish interests, but to restore the public’s faith in the legal system and to show people we lawyers are just like them.

Read the story about our soldiers blogging from overseas. Hope you find it moving and inspiring as well.

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