Darren Rowse, perhaps the most widely read expert on professional blogging, says blog design does matter.

Design does matter – I’ve written on why previously but I think it is one strategy that can really lift a blog to the next level and help create a great first impression for a blog – especially in it’s early days.

Darren goes on to acknowledge that if lack of funding for professional design is holding you back, you will want to get started publishing a blog without a good design. And that as your blog progresses you’ll pick up ideas that you’ll want to incorporate into a professional design.

As a lawyer, you don’t have the luxury of poor design. First impressions are everything. Many of your prospective clients won’t buy Scoble’s ‘Ugly Rules‘ philosophy. These folks aren’t the typical MySpace or Blogger blog user. They’ll think you’ve fallen on bad luck. And people aren’t apt to hire lawyers down on their luck.

Worse yet is getting traffic to a poorly designed lawyer blog. As David Ogilvy, the grandfather of modern advertising, explained, not all advertising that reaches your target audience is good. Advertising that sends the wrong message turns your target audience away.

Lawyers don’t buy their ‘going to court’ clothes at Goodwill. Lawyers looking to enhance their reputations and grow their business don’t buy ‘ugly rules’ when it comes to blog design.