Peter Lattman at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog asks ‘Should law firms tie bonuses to hours billed?’ The question I ask is shouldn’t law firm bonuses give credit for lawyers whose blogs provide valuable law firm marketing and PR?

I am not talking about random blogging about what ever may come into a lawyer’s mind. I am talking about lawyer blogs focused on a niche topic. Blogs that further enhance the blogging lawyer’s and law firm’s reputation as a reliable and trusted authority in an area of the law and in perhaps a certain jurisdiction. Blogs that are proving to be a cost effective marketing tool. Blogs that are bringing in business.

Wouldn’t every firm want associate lawyers like the below?

  • Dennis Crouch, publisher of the Patently-O: Patent Law Blog. Dennis has only been practicing for 3 or 4 years. But as a result of starting his blog while an associate with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, Dennis has a national reputation as a leading patent lawyer, has garnered a ton of new work, and now serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Boston University Law School (remains of counsel with McDonnell Boehnen) while his wife is in medical school in Boston.
  • Christine Mingie, a second year associate with Lang Michener in Vancouver. Christine publishes both the Forestry Law Blog and the Gaming Law International Blog. She’s garnered significant work in the lumber industry, been quoted in major publications, sought after for opinions by Canadian regulators, and just acted for Great Canadian Gaming Corp. to secure $450 million in financing.
  • The associates of Stark and Stark, who are among the 37 lawyers publishing and podcasting on the firm’s New Jersey Law Blog. Rich DeLuca, the firm’s Business Development Director, raves about marketing and PR successes from the blog. (LexBlog client)
  • The associates at Morris James who work on the firms’ Delaware Business Litigation Report Blog which provides case summaries on business-related litigation from the Delaware courts. The blog is likely to become a leading resource on such cases for lawyers in private practice and in-house counsel, both in Delaware and around the country. (LexBlog client)

Posting to a blog is fun and law firms should be lauded for having the foresight to empower associates who want to blog. At the same, law firms who bust their tails looking for marketing methods that provide a good ROI, could do a lot worse than law firm blogs. Let’s incent associates who may not be as comfortable doing other forms of marketing to blog as away to enhance their and the firm’s reputation as well as to bring in new work.

It’s a whole new generation of lawyers out there. Many younger lawyers feel more comfortable online than anywhere else. Law firms who hire some of the brightest and talented young professionals in the world have a hidden treasure of innovative Internet marketing ideas in these young people. It’s time to unleash the talent you have. Law firms who do so will be rewarded in not only increased revenues but also in their recruiting efforts to land the best and brightest.

  • Having just attended a “Year in Review” program, another question would be whether CLE credit should be available for blogging. The materials could just as easily have come from several topical blogs, except months later.

  • You’re right Scott. I suspect you’re getting more from publishing current updates on bankruptcy cases and the bankruptcy lawyers you’re networking with via your blog than sitting in a cle program.
    Knowing the bar associations, I’m not sure we’re going to cle credit for blogging anytime soon.

  • Joel S.

    If, as you say, an attorney’s blogging brings business to the firm, then yes, there should be some sort of credit for this. But isn’t there already? Every firm I’ve ever worked at gives credit to whichever attorney brought in the work.
    And that’s it. You don’t give a credit for “enhanc[ing] the blogging lawyer’s and law firm’s reputation as a reliable and trusted authority in an area of the law and in perhaps a certain jurisdiction” because that’s an attorney’s job, and because this enhancing either
    (1) leads to business, in which case the attorney is compensated as discussed above or
    (2) doesn’t lead to any business, in which case it’s worthless.