Through their multiple practice group blogs, the firm has established itself on the web in a variety of unique niches, each with its own readership base. With a strong awareness of the value blogging holds and a fairly standard procedure for developing practice-specific law blogs, Davis Wright Tremaine is a model for large firms interested in entering the blogosphere.
Their first blog – The Telecom Law Blog – became a reality in May of 2004 as an alternative approach to e-mail newsletters, says Heidi Sogn, marketing technologies manager at DWT.
"[The Telecom Law Blog] came about because at the time, we were offering clients and friends of the firm a daily update on FCC activities via e-mail," she says. "Brian Wong, in our D.C. office, was spending a considerable amount of his time putting these FCC Daily updates together, so we decided to broaden the audience by posting them on a blog."
A year later, the Privacy & Security Law Blog debuted. Since then, the firm has added the Washington Construction Law Blog and the Broadcast Law Blog to that list, bringing their blog collection to a grand total of four.
David Oxenford also works in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, where he is a partner specializing in broadcast, media and music law. He is one of the main bloggers at the firm’s Broadcast Law Blog.
According to Oxenford, he was familiar with blogs when he started at DWT in January 2006, and had interest in developing one to channel his expertise.
“I had wanted to do a blog, and when I made the decision to come to DWT, one of the things I asked about would be my freedom to do a blog,” he says. The firm had already ventured into the blogosphere by this point and had no problem with Oxenford’s idea.
The process for getting a blog at DWT, as Sogn explains it, is relatively simple. First, lawyers from interested practice areas meet with the firm’s marketing department to learn the different facets of blogging.
“We discuss their goals and objectives for the blog, the topic(s) and their time commitment regarding regularly updating the blog,” says Sogn. “We also recommend and sometimes set meetings for them with existing firm bloggers in order for them to get a better understanding and perspective on how much time and effort is involved.”
If after this process the lawyers are still committed to starting a blog, the firm reserves the domain names they would like to use and contacts LexBlog to develop initial designs.
“Once we have the design, marketing provides in-house training to the lawyers, teaching them how to use the blogging software, Movable Type,” says Sogn. “And then the blogging begins.”
Since the Broadcast Law Blog was developed, Oxenford and Brendan Holland, another attorney in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, have written most of the entries. There is no firm-imposed requirement on how frequently blog entries must be written, Oxenford says, and other partners contribute information when something interesting catches their eye. There isn’t much firm oversight, and once the blog got going, the writers were out doing it on their own.
So far, the response from within the firm has been positive. People are pleased with it, Oxenford says, and it has already helped bring in some clients.
“I think people in the firm are excited that it’s there, and I think people think it’s a great resource and a great marketing tool,” he says.
Though he’d never blogged before coming to DWT, Oxenford seems convinced of its benefits.
“Its really enjoyable,” he says. “[We’ve gotten] a lot of feedback, we have lots of people apparently looking at it…its great.”
Sogn seems to be in agreement, and says that although DWT currently operate only four blogs, “we expect that number to grow in the upcoming year.”