By Kevin O'Keefe

Colette Vogele of Vogele & Associates [LexBlog Q & A]

Welcome to 2008, and our first LexBlog Q & A of the new year. After a brief hiatus, our ongoing interview feature returns today, hopefully setting the stage for a wave of epic Q & A updates for the next 12 months.

The first guest in the hot seat this year? Colette Vogele, a San Francisco-based intellectual property lawyer who is well-known in the technology savvy legal community for her podcast Rules For The Revolution. I spoke with Colette in late December, discussing mostly her experience podcasting and how creating a podcast stacks up against writing a blog.

1. Rob La Gatta: Podcasts are very similar to blogs in many ways, most notably that both allow an individual to establish themselves as an expert on a specific issue. When did you first start podcasting, and what got you interested in it in the first place?

Colette Vogele: My first podcast that was my own production was at the beginning of [2007]. But I had been involved in the legal side of it for a couple years before that. Finally, after realizing [that] I really needed to use media to really understand what’s driving a lot of it, I decided it would be fun to try and put something together.

But I appeared on a lot of podcasts in the last couple years: some with Denise Howell, some [with] other podcasters who had legal questions and wanted to bring me on.

2. Rob La Gatta: Since you started doing your own, do you develop them for the general public, or for other lawyers? Who are your podcasts geared towards?

Colette Vogele: My podcasts are geared towards the public, more generally. I think I get lawyers listening, and I do get comments and other questions from them, but it’s really geared towards other podcasters who are out there trying to do stuff: to help them understand the implications of copyright and publicity rights, things like that.

3. Rob La Gatta: There are quite a few lawyers blogging, though it doesn’t seem like nearly as many offer podcasts. Why do you think blogs have caught on relatively quickly, while podcasts still seem fairly limited in their scope?

Colette Vogele: Well, blogs have been around a lot longer. The earliest blogs that I was aware of were back in like 2002, 2003 (and I know there were some before that).

So it has been five years, and now they’re getting to be quite popular, and more accessible…the user friendliness of setting up a blog is quite easy. So I think that hurdle – the technical hurdle – is very low now [for blogging].

I think for podcasting, it takes a bigger time commitment. I bought a recorder, and a microphone that was good. You have to […] try to make the quality of the podcast listenable. And that just takes time.

And, the commitment to setting aside time on any kind of a regular schedule to have a program is a little more intensive than blogging is, even though the overall barrier to having an audience is quite low, compared to history. I think that’s probably the biggest issue.

Lawyers – and I don’t mean this in any bad way – I don’t think were the first to adopt the technology normally. I mean, if you’re a tech lawyer you will be [blogging], but there are so many practice areas where this is just not as important as it is in a tech practice.

4. Rob La Gatta: What do you see as the biggest challenge you’ve encountered podcasting…the aforementioned time issue, or is there some other hurdle?

Colette Vogele: It really is [the time issue].

In my head, what I’d like to have and what I’m able to really do with the time I have are two different things. I started off thinking I would try and do something weekly, and that kind of trickled to every other week, and now if I’m lucky it’s monthly. I think [in 2008], I’m just going to say, “Whenever I can, I’m going to do it,” and not put all this pressure on myself. So it’s really keeping a schedule.

From the podcasts I listen to, I’m really grateful knowing that they’re there…I can go and say, “Oh, there’s a few more episodes, that’s great.” It feels reliable, like we were all taught to watch television: our show was on a certain time, every week. I feel like I’ve completely bombed on that front (laughs). But I still think it’s a valuable resource, and when I can, I do it.

5. Rob La Gatta: You’re obviously one of the more tech-savvy lawyers around today. Do you think that in coming years, a knowledge of new media and technology – be it blogging, podcasting, etc – will becoming increasingly important in giving lawyers a competitive edge? Why or why not?

Colette Vogele I think so. Even if your practice doesn’t have anything to do with the Internet or technology, people are using the Internet – and these technologies – to learn about what they need; consumers are using the web, regardless of if they’re looking for something techy…they’re looking for something.

For example, maybe they need a family law lawyer. Or maybe they need a construction defect lawyer. They’re going to go and look for a website, and then they’re going to see, “Oh, this person writes a blog. What have they written about? Are they an expert? Oh, look, they have some audio files! Lets listen to those…let me see if I like this person’s demeanor, what I can gather from that kind of a setting.”

I think those types of questions for consumers are going to be more and more important for them to be comfortable with picking up the phone and calling that lawyer and asking if [that lawyer] would be able to represent them. So I think, over time, it will be important regardless of your practice area.

In a lot of cases, practices grow through referrals, and so whether you have a great website or not may not matter in a huge way. But I think consumers are finding the Internet to be a great place to do some of their research, and it’s a good way for a lawyer to have a credible existence to potential clients.

Interested in hearing more? Check out some of our other featured guests…Colette is just the latest in our ongoing series of legal blog interviews for the LexBlog Q & A.

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