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Dan Clement of the New York Divorce Report [LexBlog Q&A]

January 22, 2008

After a hiatus over the long weekend, the LexBlog Q&A returns on this Tuesday with an interview I’ve been holding onto for a few days. The latest guest in our hot seat is New York divorce & family lawyer Dan Clement, the man behind the New York Divorce Report.

I caught up with Dan when he had a few free minutes between court and the office last week to chat about his experience as a blogger in America’s most populous city.

1. Rob La Gatta: When did you first start blogging? Since then, how have you seen the legal blogosphere change?

Dan Clement:

I started blogging in July or August of last year, and in that time I’ve seen the number and diversity of legal blogs expanding. I can say in the area where I’m doing this – family/divorce law – I think there’s at least one [blog] for almost every state. I know a couple more just came alive in the past week or two. It seems to be mushrooming.

1a. Rob La Gatta: What about in terms of the overall writing quality you see demonstrated by other lawyers: has that improved?

Dan Clement: Yes, but I think that’s just the nature of the beast: as there’s more quantity, the quality also has to go up. If there isn’t a qualitative change, numbers alone don’t mean a whole lot. I think one just keeps feeding on the other: the more there are, the better they get.

2. Rob La Gatta: Aren’t there a lot of divorce lawyers in New York? How have you used the blog to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack in your city?

Dan Clement: As far as I know, there’s only one or two other divorce blogs/family law blogs in New York, which I find a little shocking. As a result, I’m using the blog to try and differentiate myself from others. It has [also] allowed me to share some opinions that I have, or some judicial opinions that I think are noteworthy, which is reflected in my expertise/knowledge.

3. Rob La Gatta: In terms of community-building, many look to blogs as a networking tool. What about in a city like New York? Have you noticed that lawyers in NYC have used the legal blogosphere to foster relationships with one another that would have otherwise not been able to develop?

Dan Clement: I see that there is a blogging community when I read New York blogs, but I don’t think it’s just limited to New York. In general, there’s obviously a blogging community, where people are citing specific bloggers. Then, within jurisdictions, I think it gets even more – for lack of a better term – incestuous: certain blogs within New York State are repeatedly referenced in other blogs, particularly as it deals with the broader practice of law as opposed to the specialty areas. There are certain general blogs just covering New York law, New York practice of law, [and] the marketing of New York law…blogs which I see repeatedly referenced within other local blogs here.

4. Rob La Gatta: Based on your personal experience, what has been the biggest reward and biggest challenge to arise from blogging?

Dan Clement: For me, the challenge is always finding something to write about, and sometimes limiting myself on what I can write about. Some days I’ll find 4 or 5 topics that I want to write about, but there’s time to write about 1; then there are also days where I find it very difficult to come up with something interesting to write.

The biggest reward is when I start looking at statistics and I see that my readership is increasing, [and] I’m getting more hits on the blog. That means I’m reaching the people I want to reach, which brings me a bit of satisfaction.

5. Rob La Gatta: What about the art of blogging do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?

Dan Clement: I think, early on, I was writing as if trying to write a masterpiece. Not that I don’t pay particular attention to my grammar now…but not every thought has to be an original thought. Sometimes it’s okay to say, “Hey, this guy came up with a good idea,” and give my spin on it, as opposed to saying, “I have to come up with something original.”

I think that was really daunting in the beginning: I was always trying to come up with an original article, as opposed to blogging by citing someone and talking about what they said, and giving my spin on it. Doing that was particularly draining, and it got tiring.

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