Today’s LexBlog Q & A brings another non-LexBlog client to the hot seat: Scott H. Greenfield, a New York-based criminal defense lawyer who comments on the law and the blogosphere in his blog, Simple Justice.
We mentioned Scott earlier this week after he entered the ongoing discussion surrounding the ABA Blawg 100 awards (which have been the talk of the legal blogosphere this week) with an insightful post on the value – or lack thereof – of such an awards system.
Below is LexBlog’s e-mail interview with Scott, conducted yesterday.
1. Rob La Gatta: First off, what do you enjoy most about blogging?
Scott Greenfield: The best part of blogging is being a small part of an enormous conversation on things that interest and matter to me. Whether it’s local or worldwide, and amazingly it sometimes goes worldwide, and whether it’s with laypeople or renown[ed] scholars, everybody gets a seat at the table for the chat. It’s incredible what you can learn.
2. Rob La Gatta: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced – either personal or professional – since you became a blogger?
Scott Greenfield: It was surprising to learn how many people read, or at least learn about, the things you post. For me, this has included judges before whom I’m trying cases, who make sure that I know that they know that I was critical of them in the past. That little comment slipped in with a wink will remind you that you had better be prepared to live with your opinions expressed online because they will eventually come back to bite you in the butt.
3. Rob La Gatta: I got the impression through your post on the ABA 100 list and the subsequent discussion in its comments page that you don’t blog just to market yourself. Is this an appropriate assumption to make? If so, why do you blog?
Scott Greenfield: Not only do I not blog to market myself, but I find the idea of self-aggrandizing blogging to be offensive. It defeats the purpose of blogging, to have the freedom to express your views on subjects that matter, as well as assuring that you offer nothing that anybody else will want to read. Nobody wants to read posts about what a wonderful lawyer you are or how brilliant you are. If you’re brilliant, show it by posting substantive pieces.
My blogging is solely for fun. I would (and did) write regardless of whether blogs existed because I feel a desire (compulsion?) to express myself that way. I’m a news junky and seem to have an opinion on a lot of subjects. Writing allows me to get it out, and blogging allows me to have others let me know what they think of my views.
4. Rob La Gatta: Where do you see all this going? Do you believe that legal blogs are a fad that will come and go, or do you think they’re reshaping the way lawyers do their job (and if so, how)?
Scott Greenfield: Legal blogs are in their infancy at the moment, but I don’t think they are just a fad. On the other hand, I would anticipate that 90% of the blogs that lawyers start will be abandoned within a year. It takes a lot of work to maintain a blog that people want to read, with a steady, reliable stream of substantive work. The notion that you can start a blog that says nothing, or post every 6 weeks, or write only about what a terrific lawyer you are, and anybody is going to want to read it is simply wrong. The only thing that brings people back is substance, and substance takes effort.
I doubt that blogs will “reshape” the way lawyers do their job. They will provide a new, hopefully more interesting, way to keep abreast of new developments, but they are unlikely to have any great impact on the practice of law.
I do think, however, that blogs are gaining in credibility and influence, and may ultimately have a significant impact on both public and judicial thinking. Blogs are suddenly being cited in opinions, and are influencing mainline media stories. This is huge. There is still a long way to go to establish real credibility, but I think this may be the lasting influence of blogging.
5. Rob La Gatta:
If you could provide one bit of advice for a lawyer new to the blogosphere, just starting his or her first blog, what guidance would you give them?
Scott Greenfield: It’s all about substance. If you want anyone to care about what you have to say, then have something to say. But keeping up a blog with substantive posts takes a lot of effort. So if you aren’t having fun, or think you’re going to see some direct financial correlation with your blogging, you’re going to burn out quickly and be very disappointed. So either have fun with it or find a hobby more suited to your interests. Blogging isn’t for everyone.
That’s it for today’s interview. Know someone you think lawyers might be interested in hearing from? Drop me their name in an e-mail and we’ll see if we can sit them down for a LexBlog Q & A.