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J. Craig Williams of May It Please The Court [LexBlog Q & A]

February 19, 2008

J. Craig Williams, our guest for today’s LexBlog Q & A, is the founder of the Williams Lindberg Law Firm and author of the law blog May It Please The Court.

Based out of Newport Beach, California, Craig’s blog – started in 2004 – received recognition two years later when it was selected by the Los Angeles Press Club as the Best Individual Weblog (beating out material authored by professional journalists, and becoming one of the first blogs to win a mainstream journalism award).

Not surprisingly, Craig has some insights into the role blogs are playing in journalism…and much more. See the full text of our interview after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: Why did you first start May It Please The Court back in 2004?

Craig Williams: I got an e-mail from a lawyer in Maryland who started a blog, and he gave me the idea. It had been something that I started back in 2000 on a very rudimentary basis, simply summarizing slip opinions in English (or something that was easier to understand than the way that the court wrote it) and putting it up on the website. But it was very clunky and it took a lot of time, because there was no WordPress or Typepad or anything that made it easy to do. It was, “write it, send it off to the webmaster and allow him to put it up on the website.”

That didn’t work very well, and I stopped doing it. So when I saw someone else using WordPress and publishing a blog – doing basically the same thing I was doing – I thought it would be a great opportunity to continue what I had started earlier.

It seemed to make sense: it would create a way for people to be able to find you more frequently on the Internet. Law firm websites were just static brochures, and by increasing the content, I thought it would make it more interesting to potential clients. Lo and behold, the idea that I had had in the beginning was the very idea that Google now uses to rank its search results.

2. Rob La Gatta: In an interview from 2004, shortly after starting the blog, you said that it had already brought you some significant business. Has that momentum kept up, even with so many more lawyers blogging now? Do you still see positive business impacts from the blog?

Craig Williams: I do. We track the blog, and upwards of 25% of the people that retain us find us from the Internet.

You have to understand, I’ve been doing it for five years. And there’s an awful lot of [my content] out there. As a consequence, the blog has kind of become this self propagating machine…it continually puts me in situations that I would not have otherwise have been in.

For example, I’m speaking in Oklahoma in August. I would have never had that opportunity had it not been for the blog. I’m publishing a book that’s coming out in June. Had it not been for the blog, that book would have never been published.

3. Rob La Gatta: You started podcasting in 2005, correct? Was podcasting designed as an extension of the blog, or something else altogether?

Craig Williams: I had actually started before that; I started on my own in 2004…again a very rudimentary effort, because all I was doing was reading my posts and putting them up as audio files.

[Podcasting] was a co-component of the blog. I got my third class FCC license to broadcast radio when I was in 9th grade. I had a radio show at the local high school, and then when I got into college, I had a commercial radio show. So I have been podcasting/broadcasting for a very long period of time, and I really enjoy it.

4. Rob La Gatta: Do you see the line between bloggers and journalists getting thinner? Do you think that eventually blogging lawyers will be able to essentially become the journalists who cover their own niche?

Craig Williams: I think it’s already that way. Lawyers who cover their own niche have already taken over traditional journalists…I’m not sure if from a writing level, but definitely from a content level. It seems to me to be entirely logical that if I want to know about unfair competition law, I can go to Kimberly Kralowec’s blog and read the latest developments, or try to search up something in the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times. The option is fairly clear.

5. Rob La Gatta: What is the biggest challenge and the biggest reward you’ve encountered during your time blogging?

Craig Williams:

The biggest challenge has been writing consistently and constantly while trying to practice law, and keeping it interesting.

The biggest reward? That’s a tough one. I would say the biggest reward for me is making friends all across the world through the blog. It’s just been an amazing extension of myself to be able to reach out, to meet people in London, France, Italy, Australia and across the country. The [biggest reward is the] friendship that automatically occurs from a small number of us doing the same thing, and the camaraderie that goes along with it.

Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:

Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.