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Tom Mighell’s 2003 lawyer blog predictions

A few days ago, I posted about Dennis Kennedy’s February, 2003 interview on blogs. Turns out Attorney Tom Mighell, very well respected on law and technology, was also interviewed at the same time and shared his views on lawyer blogs. Like Dennis, Tom was right on with predicting the future of lawyer blogs and providing excellent tips for lawyers looking to blog.

Here’s some excerpts from Tom’s interview by Jim Calloway, an attorney from Oklahoma who serves as the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program.

Why did you become a blogger?

I had wanted to start a legal research Web site for some time, but had neither the time nor the technical expertise necessary to design a website from the ground up. Most Web logging software is pretty user-friendly, allowing you to become a blogger with a minimum of knowledge about the technology. Of course, that’s not always a good thing.

Another reason why I started a Web log is that as a blogger you have the opportunity to instantly become part of a larger online community. When you start a Web site you’re pretty much on your own as far as publicizing the site, or finding ways to drive traffic to you. With a Web log, you have a ready-made group of fellow bloggers who are just dying to tell other people about your site. The more bloggers who link to your site, the more popular you become, which in turn drives more people to your Web log.

What do you see in the future of blogs, or blawgs?

That’s a two-parter. As for Web logs in general, I see a big push towards mobile blogging, or “moblogging.” As technology improves and people can automatically update their Web logs with a web-enabled PDA, you’ll see Web loggers become more like journalists, with the ability to instantly publish news on the Internet (add a camera to that PDA and you’ll be able to tell the full story!)

For law-related Web logs, or “blawgs,” I am really a fan of single-issue blawgs. Sites like the Trademark Blawg and How Appealing take a specific area of law and provide something of specific value to their readers. A Web log on a specific area of practice provides a lawyer with something they are not likely to find anywhere else for free: daily news and case law updates on their particular area of interest.

I also think blawgs can serve a great purpose within large and medium-sized law firms. Here’s how it could work; a lawyer in the commercial litigation section of a largish-firm has an interest in Web logs – a Web log could be created on the firm’s intranet, allowing that lawyer to post frequent updates on issues of interest to other commercial litigators in the firm. Lawyers could receive daily updates on new commercial lit opinions, evidentiary issues coming up at trial, news about a particular case, or just about anything that might be important to their practice. Some Web logs like these have cropped up here and there, but we’re still a long way from them becoming common in law firms.

Do you have any tips for the blogger wannabe?

  1. Become familiar with the medium. Explore different types of Web logs and see which ones appeal to you. Ernie the Attorney has a terrific list of legal Web logs.
  2. Pick the right software. There are a lot of blogging software utilities, and they are designed for every level of technological sophistication. Don’t choose a blogging tool that you don’t know how to use – you’ll get frustrated and your readers will not be amused.
  3. Pay your dues. There are over 500,000 Web logs on the Internet, and they have all been doing it longer than you. Learn how to earn the respect of those who came before you, and your success will come in the form of increased traffic to your site.
  4. Have fun! One thing you’ll notice about Web loggers is that they all have a passion for their subject, whether it’s employment law, music, politics, religion, or technology. A Web log gives you a chance to find your voice on a particular issue; if you’re not having fun, maybe Web logging is not your thing.

For those of you who do not know Tom, he is not only a shareholder with the Dallas law firm of Cowles & Thompson, but he also publishes the Web log Inter Alia, produces the Internet Legal Research Weekly, an e-mail newsletter and is a regular speaker on law and technology issues. If you get a chance to hear him talk, take advantage of the opportunity.

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