In Austin, Texas’ state capital and fourth largest city, police officials are continually working to end alcohol-related car accidents by stopping them at their source.
The city has a DWI Enforcement Team, in operation since 1998, which conducts patrols aimed at violators of state DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) laws. In early May of this year, they took it a step further and debuted the BAT (Breath Alcohol Test) Bus, used to conduct BAT’s on the road in a city ranked highest in the state for DWI arrests.
Not surprisingly, when laws are broken – and when the result of such violations could cost someone their driver’s license or their freedom – lawyers who specialize in DWI and Criminal Defense play an increasingly prominent role.
That approach, these attorneys say, is helping give them a leg up in a city saturated by lawyers.
“It is extremely, extremely competitive,” says Gibson, a Texas native who has been practicing since 1999. “For folks that are starting out, it’s extremely difficult to break into the market. There are hundreds and hundreds of attorneys graduating from the University of Texas each semester.”
Gibson, who runs the Austin DWI Attorney blog and featured the BAT Bus in a posting last month, has been blogging since almost immediately after he learned of the technology a few years ago. The attraction, he says, is the way search engines “love” blogs. Though his LexBlog blog is still in its infancy – it went live on May 15 – it has already attracted nearly 250 visitors.
He isn’t the only LexBlog client defending drunk drivers in a tech-friendly city dubbed “The Silicon Hills.” For Jamie Spencer, who practiced under Gibson for six years before going out on his own in January, blogging is even more pivotal.
“He is Mr. Blog,” Gibson says of his former employee. “He should be your poster child. I don’t think anybody understands blogs like he does.”
By looking at Spencer’s techniques, few in the blogosphere would disagree.
He spends between 30 minutes and an hour writing each post, and even more time reading other blogs. He is active in linking in and out – an approach that was featured by LexBlog earlier this month after one of Spencer’s readers asked how he did it so well – and is constantly contacted by other lawyers aware of his success.
For Texas attorneys, that success is plainly evident: entering “Austin DWI” into Google shows Spencer’s DWI blog at eighth on the list (Ken Gibson’s website is first), while revising the terms to “Austin DWI lawyer” puts both Spencer’s blogs into the top five results.
The number of visitors is even more compelling – more than 23,000 for Austin DWI Lawyer, and nearly 95,000 for Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer. Not bad for a pair of blogs less than a year old.
So what does Spencer see as the biggest benefit of being a blogger, beyond high Google placement?
“Clients, frankly, calling and telling me that the reason they’re coming to me is because they read my blog and they liked what I had to say,” he says. “I get multiple calls per week off the blog. […] I’ve probably been averaging a couple of clients a week off [it]. And almost all of them say the same thing, and that is, ‘You had more information on your blog than anybody else had on their website.’”
The reason, he thinks, is simple: most static websites are written not by lawyers, but by marketers who focus more on the attorney than the client. All of the degrees a lawyer has acquired, the seminars he has attended and the books he’s read are of little consequence to someone up against the law.
“[With] blogging, by being able to break it down and write three, four, eight, 10 paragraph articles about what happens to people who get arrested in the real world, you’re talking about the client, you’re not talking about yourself,” he says. “That’s what the client wants to see. […] They don’t really care where you went to law school. They want to know, ‘What’s going to happen to me, and what can I do to minimize the damage?’”