By Kevin O'Keefe

Time for managing partners’ blogs is now!

gillmor.jpgSyndicated tech journalist Dan Gillmor, writing for Computerworld, talked about a new member of the blogosphere: Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer of Sun Microsystems.

As Gilmore said, Schwartz is among a small number of senior executives in the corporate world to adopt the blog format for explaining his views. I agree with Gilmore that Schwartz is one of the best at it, and other executives could learn something from him. Law firm managing partners and leaders could learn something as well.

Gilmore, in describing the corporate Web site welcome messages from CEO’s, might as well have been describing the welcome message from managing partners on large and medium size law firm Web sites:

The least interesting feature of a corporate Web site, with few exceptions, is the typical “Letter From the Chief Executive,” a content-free missive, most likely written by a committee of lawyers and marketing people, that does nothing to reveal the character either of the company or its leader. Creating an impression of openness isn’t the same as actually being open.

Gilmore believes establishing a corporate weblog can change that. What the best blogs, he says, “tend to have in common is voice: They clearly have been written by human beings with genuine ideas and a passion for what they’re saying.”

Law firm Web sites appear on their face to talk about the law firm. But do you really get a feel of the law firm, its passions and its doings? I think not.

Gilmore talked about Groove Networks’ CEO Ray Ozzie, posting only periodically, who says his blog gives him “a communications channel under my control,” where he can say what he wants (within limits, such as keeping trade secrets secret), and he has the ability to post quickly and without limits on length. “I feel as though there’s a conversation — many conversations — going on out there,” Ozzie says. “It lets me feel like I’m part of that conversation, and when I get calls and e-mails, there’s confirmation that I’m part of the conversation.”

As I am sure would be the case with some law firms, Gilmore says: “Corporate lawyers are undoubtedly having miniseizures over their outspoken executives’ public statements. But sensible rules for corporate bloggers can prevent public relations or legal problems.” The same is true with law firms.

lexBlog has launched one Amlaw 200 with their first blog and there is another Amlaw 200 firm to follow shortly. Sure there were IT, confidentiality and conflicts concerns. The challenges were discussed and solutions found to seize the opportunity corporate communications blogs present. The firms found lexBlog’s underlying blog software flexible and accommodating in developing solutions to these challenges.

Gilmore concludes: “I don’t think corporate blogging is a fad. The blog brings a human voice to the enterprise. It’s not just good marketing. It’s good business.”

As a law firm marketing director, you’re asked to come up with new ideas. Who is going to be among the first to have their managing partner publishing a corporate blog? Like Gilmore says it will not only be good marketing, it’ll be good business.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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