Delaware corporate and commercial litigation lawyer Francis Pileggi is a bit of a celebrity, both in his home state and the global blogosphere.
Francis is responsible for founding the Wilmington, Delaware branch of Fox Rothschild LLP, a firm with 14 offices and almost 400 lawyers across the country. His name has popped up in election campaigns, legal publications and professional organizations across the east coast.
Francis publishes the Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation Blog, where he provides consumers and lawyers with updates on Delaware court decisions related to corporate and commercial law. Using layman’s terms and offering a wealth of links to other resources, he gives technology a major role in his professional life.
“I realized that the Internet was the way most people find and learn about lawyers today,” says Francis about his decision to start blogging in early 2005. “A blog is the best way to create your own Internet presence.”
That’s just what the Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation Blog has done: it has allowed Francis to become a well-known web personality and established him as an expert in his area of practice.
People like Stephen Bainbridge – a law professor at the UCLA School of Law who maintains his own highly respected and widely read law blog at ProfessorBainbridge.com – commend Francis’ work. In a post earlier this month, Bainbridge praised Francis’ blog, calling it “an essential resource” for those working in corporate law.
“If you’re a corporate lawyer, you need to visit [Francis Pileggi’s Delaware Litigation Blog] regularly,” Bainbridge wrote on May 19.
The Professor isn’t alone: blogs like the Ideoblog, Cases and Materials on Business Entities and the Conglomerate have all provided links to Francis’ blog, an indication that the bloggers who maintain such sites were privy to Pileggi’s knowledge even before Bainbridge offered his praise.
But it’s all part of the business, and an e-following is just one of the many returns blogs can provide for working professionals.
Though he wasn’t aware of all the potential benefits when he started his blog, Francis knew he had stumbled upon something when he found the LexBlog site in late 2004. Attracted by the company’s specific focus on lawyers and its turnkey operation, he began working with LexBlog founder and president Kevin O’Keefe at a time when there was far more resistance to blogging in the legal community than there is today.
When Francis first attempted to start his own blog, it was a challenge to convince his employers of the purpose it would serve.
“There was a lack of understanding at that time, though now there are three firm-sponsored blogs,” he says of Fox Rothschild’s receptiveness. “They delayed the introduction of the blog until they formulated a firm-wide policy on blogs.”
Though some of that resistance has diminished – with large firms like Fox Rothschild, Sheppard Mullin and Stark & Stark jumping on the blog bandwagon – Francis acknowledges that there are still those uncomfortable with making the change.
“[There is] a lack of understanding of how blogs work, and a lack of comfort with new technology,” he says. “Blogs will be as necessary in the future as having a regular website is today.”
But for tech-savvy lawyers working for a firm that doesn’t yet see the benefits of blogging, Francis – who was in a similar situation two years ago – has some advice.
“Try to convince management that they need to get ahead of the wave,” he suggests. Sometimes, he adds, when a firm is showing resistance to developing firm-wide blogs, it is better for individual lawyers to start one on their own. If nothing else, it will show their bosses the technology’s potential.
“Law firms that do not understand the need for blogs will be perceived as behind the times,” he says. “And not very tech savvy.”