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Decline in enthusiasm for law blogging? Hogwash

January 5, 2007

Peter Spiro’s post on ‘Abandoned Blogs‘ has generated discussion that law blogs may have reached their peak. See Dan Solove at Concurring OpnionsOrin Kerr at The Volokh ConspiracyDoug Bermann at Law School InnovationPaul Caron’s TaxProf BlogBob Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Law blogs are in their infancy. The vast majority of good lawyers are just becoming familiar with the term blog. Those lawyers are not even close to understanding how a blog can be used to advance the discourse in an area of law that interests them and to further enhance their reputation as a reliable and trusted authority on the respective area.

People, especially lawyers, don’t jump into things outside their comfort zone. As lawyers see more of their peers blog and in turn learn from them, they’ll put their toe into blogging waters.

And let’s get down to crass reality. Practicing lawyers are driven by the need to make a living – to develop business. The best work comes via word of mouth, networking, and business development. That’s the case for a solo or someone practicing in a firm with a 1,000 lawyers.

Networking and showcasing one’s expertise obviously occurred offline in days go by. It’s going to occur more online than offline from now on. Lawyers can network online with their target audience – prospective clients and those who influence them – via a blog more effectively than any other medium available.

This networking is going to be done by sharing legal information and collaboration on niche legal topics. Such collaboration is going to bring legal academia, practicing lawyers and industries together in ways we have never seen before.

Lawyers are going to be pulled into this discussion as a way to stay up on the law and as an energizing way to market what they do. Lawyers will express themselves via their blog and via comments on other blogs. They may soon do so in aggregated communities of blogged content.

Note too that discourse on the law and marketing are not mutually exclusive. Lawyers have for decades written, spoke and collaborated with lawyers and business associates as a means of marketing themselves. Unlike other industries, a lawyers brand is established via their expertise. We know a lawyer by what they excel at.

Just because some lawyers are not experiencing success from their blogs and dropping off is not a sign law blogs have peaked. It’s often evidence that the lawyer did not understand the essence of blogging. There’s an art to blogging. Not understanding the art can lead to spending a lot of time blogging without feeling you’re getting anything in return. Of course you’ll then be inclined to stop plowing that field.

But as RSS, as away for the public to consume content, becomes more prominent and as more lawyers become more familiar with the art of blogging we’re going to see an explosion of law blogs.

One thing that has been a constant in the legal profession through out the years has been a segment of lawyers who have a passion for what they do. They wanted to become a lawyer because it’s a noble profession that allows them to serve others whether law students, consumers, business people or large corporations. These lawyers have a passion for the area of law in which they practice, no matter what area of the law it may be.

Blogs provide these lawyers the opportunity to express this passion, network with others with a similar passion, and be recognized for this passion in a way never before possible. Lawyers will enjoy the law in a way they had hoped to. They’ll grow their businesses through tasteful marketing and showcasing their intellectual capital. Things to be proud of. Lawyers will most certainly be drawn to blogs.

I stand by my quote in a Newark Star Ledger story on lawyer blogs last week.

There will be a floodgate opening… In the next three years I expect to see a couple hundred thousand lawyers putting up a blog, because they can’t afford to be on the sidelines. You will see the majority of lawyers publishing to a blog by the end of this decade.

Not close to a peak yet. Expect to see a nation of blogging lawyers.

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