LexisNexis confirmed this morning that blogs are an effective marketing tool for lawyers with the introduction of their Martindale-Hubbell Lawyers.com’s blog product. It had been long rumored this product was in the works.

It will be interesting to see how this project plays out for Lawyers.com. Unlike websites and other marketing, blogs are high profile and widely discussed. Done incorrectly, not only will Lawyers.com be embarrassed, but their lawyer customers will be held up to some ridicule in the legal blogosphere discussion. That was the case with Findlaw’s entree into the lawyer blog market. See posts from Bob Ambrogi and I.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Lawyers.com blog project was driven by IT and business development folks or by experienced bloggers at Lawyers.com. I have not seen anyone from LexisNexis or it’s Martindale-Hubbell Lawyers.com publishing a blog. I approached them a couple years ago about doing a good blog product for their lawyer customers and got no response.

It will also be interesting to see how Lawyers.com supports what is being labeled a free blog product.

  • Who teaches the lawyers how to blog, to produce the type of content likely to get cited and not embarrass the lawyer?
  • Who teaches them how to use RSS?
  • Who teaches them how to write blog content for effective search engine optimization?
  • Who teaches the lawyers how to market their blog?
  • Who works with the lawyers on tech support issues, such as improper html formatting, comment & trackback spam, and the like?
  • Who teaches the lawyers how to do effective PR with their blog?

Without these things, lawyers are going to put time into posting content and get little, if anything, in return. Lawyers.com may call it a free product but it’s not free if the lawyer is putting in time.

Historically Martindale-Hubbell Lawyers.com websites have been a product for law firms who did not have much to spend for a website. You needed a website and if you only had $500 or $700, they could get you one. Lawyers needing more of a presence went elsewhere. Lawyers.com may now have lawyers asking about blogs but without a budget to do it right, so they get a free blog.

My quick take on Lawyers.com blogs?

  • Lawyer blogs are being validated as a very effective marketing tool. A company like LexBlog will gain more law firm clients who appreciate the need for lawyer blogs.
  • Lawyers.com blog focus appears to be on firms with smaller marketing budgets and who have traditionally used the yellow pages for marketing.
  • Free and good are tough to scale. Without consulting, design, training, support, SEO, and marketing, enhancing a lawyers reputation as a reliable and trusted authority in their niche, the goal of a blog, will not be achieved.
  • Lawyers.com blog focus will be on SEO alone, about 20% of the reason for publishing a lawyer blog.
  • Lawyers.com sales people will have little understanding of what it means to publish a blog.
  • Interesting that Martindale did not offer a blog product for lawyers in larger firms. Such firms heavily market through networking, reputation enhancement, and the sharing of the lawyer’s intellectual capital.

I’m meeting with the Senior Vice President of LexisNexis Client Development next week. It’ll be interesting to get his take on this product and how he views LexBlog in comparison.

I’d also be interested in hearing from lawyers using Lawyers.com’s products or those who have in the past. What do you think of this entree into blogs by Lawyers.com? Do you think it will be a winner for lawyers?