Today we return once again to the LexBlog Q & A interview feature, this time profiling Stamford, Connecticut-based lawyer Daniel Schwartz.
Dan, who runs the Connecticut Employment Law Blog and is a partner in the Labor & Employment practice at Epstein Becker & Green, updates his blog with new content almost every day of the work week. In a phone interview this morning, I spoke with Dan about how he manages to blog so often, his tricks for increasing blog traffic, and how media coverage of the blog has impacted his reputation at the office.
1. Rob La Gatta: To start, lets talk about your blogging routine: you post a lot, and your updates are often lengthy. Do you schedule time each day to blog, and do you map out in advance what issues you will cover? Or is it something you don’t decide until you sit down in front of the computer.
Daniel Schwartz: I try to do it either in the evenings and schedule the post for the following morning, or I try to do it first thing in the morning, before the phones start ringing and clients start e-mailing. Typically what I’ll do is, during the day, I may star some stories from Google Reader to follow up on, or check the court dockets to see if any new decision has come down. Sometimes there’s a pressing matter where you want to update it immediately. But I try to reserve the time for both the beginning and end of the workday.
I end up updating really every business day. I’ve decided not to post on weekends, because no one really reads it [then].
2.Rob La Gatta: All lawyers are experts in their respective fields, but only so many of them can be recognized as such. Do you believe blogging is an effective method for establishing yourself as a recognized expert in employment law?
Daniel Schwartz: I do. I think it is an effective way to essentially demonstrate your expertise to people, instead of telling them that you’re an expert. I think that when you’re able to write about a particular subject matter in particular detail, people tend to respect that much more than [if you are] just pounding on your chest and proclaiming to the world, ‘I am the greatest!’
I’ve tried to make it a point of picking out topics that I find of interest and that I think others might, and getting into a bit of detail that can explain a subject a little more – and may ultimately provide the answers to sort of general questions that people out there might have.
3.Rob La Gatta: I noticed on the about page of your blog, you specifically mention that reader participation – through comments, e-mails, etc – was crucial to the blog’s long-term success. Have you gotten this type of response from readers so far?
Daniel Schwartz: I have. It really is a conversation…[you are] entering into a dialogue. I’ve made an effort to reach out to other blogs and comment on them, which in turn has those people look[ing] at my blog and comment as well. From that sense, it’s really been a terrific help in spreading the word and discussing subjects in more detail.
Ultimately, other blogs – such as Above the Law or Point of Law – have picked up on my employment law topics, which may reach a larger audience [because of] it. And I’ve also gotten calls from prospective clients and newspaper reporters that would not have otherwise found me.
4.Rob La Gatta: Yes, about that: I noticed that you’ve recently generated some respectable media exposure. Has this had any impact on how you are received by other lawyers within the firm? Are you given any voice in discussions on marketing issues?
Daniel Schwartz: In fact, I’ve been tasked within my firm – based on the success that we’ve had with the blog – [to look] at other blogs that the firm or other attorneys within my firm can do, and at specific targeted areas where we can provide some additional insight and background, given our involvement in the field.
I think, as with any larger firm, there is always reluctance to try something new. But they have been supportive throughout, and every time the blog gets mentioned in the media, much like it would for other attorneys, the firm has posted it – both internally and externally. It shows the success that the blog can have, of getting referenced in the media and building your word of mouth.
5. Rob La Gatta: f you were to meet a lawyer just starting his or her first blog, what is the single most important bit of advice you’d offer them? Why?
Daniel Schwartz: I think you need to want to do a blog, and I think you need to enjoy doing a blog.
I have found that blogging fits within the marketing and overall approach that I want to take to my practice. It gives me an outlet to do some writing, and it gives me an excuse to keep up on recent developments in the law. I think we all have limits on our time, and I end up sometimes blogging from home with my kids sitting next to me, on my laptop. But I view it as something I enjoy doing rather than as work, and I think if you want to do a blog, you need to do it for the right reasons. It’s not a one shot endeavor; it’s a work in progress that you build on.
Ultimately, I can look back on this, and I’ve got dozens and dozens of articles on various subjects that are a reference, not only to people out there, but to myself as well.
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.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our past legal blog interviews.