Eric Turkewitz, the New York attorney and founder of The Turkewitz Law Firm, is the featured interview subject for today’s LexBlog Q & A.

Aside from his legal work, Eric also runs a blog, the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, and has been a featured speaker at various health an pharmaceutical-related events over the past few years.

See the details of our e-mail interview – in which we chat about how an attorney in America’s most populous city can carve himself a niche in the blogosphere – after the jump.


1. Rob La Gatta: Why do you blog?

Eric Turkewitz: I’ve been fascinated with the online medium since I first logged on to Prodigy (around 1993) and then AOL before gravitating to the web. And I’ve always participated in online discussion groups of some kind, as the idea of swapping thoughts with folks from all over the world was so fascinating.

Blogging was just a natural outgrowth of participating in other online communities. I thought, why not just create my own forum and focus the content on what interests me the most?

2. Rob La Gatta: I notice you utilize blog comments quite a bit, both at your own blog and on others. In your opinion, how important are author comments in running a successful blog?

Eric Turkewitz: I’ve never really thought about it in terms of importance. I just do it because I like it. Otherwise, it would be a job.

But I do understand why it’s important, as comments mean people are listening and responding, and that is what makes a community. Since I enjoy getting feedback, I figure others probably enjoy it too.

3. Rob La Gatta: It goes without saying that New York is a huge city with a lot of lawyers. Have you found yourself networking more with local lawyers and fostering relationships that would otherwise have not developed?

Eric Turkewitz: Prior to the blog I already networked with many local personal injury attorneys through a vibrant listserve, and until recently most didn’t even know I had a blog. It was just my little corner of cyberspace where I did my own thing.

I do think, however, that it’s important as far as reaching across to other types of lawyers as a form of networking. As a result of the blog there are probably hundreds of lawyers outside my field who didn’t know I existed who now know who I am (or they are in my field, but in another state). And that can only be a good thing. Unless I irritate them with something I write, of course, in which case we can agree it might not be such a good thing.

4. Rob La Gatta: Since you’ve been practicing for 20 years, you obviously saw the legal world long before the Internet arrived. What is the biggest change you’ve seen the law undergo since legal blogging became popular?

Eric Turkewitz: The biggest thing is the ease with which you can watch developments in the law outside your own community, regardless of whether that community is a regional one or a practice-specific one. When you add a few dozen different blogs to your RSS feed, you just naturally start reading and learning more and more about other areas of the law and trends in other parts of the country.

It’s not the law that is changing, but the lawyer. I think we are more likely to see people reach out to new areas of the law they hadn’t previously worked in by harnessing the talents of others that are putting so much content up on the web for free. When I received a cease and desist comment from Avis regarding my use of their trademark, for example, I wrote about it and invited those in the field to respond. Many did, and I learned quite a bit.

5. Rob La Gatta: What is the biggest challenge you’ve been faced with when blogging?

Eric Turkewitz: Time management. I have a full time practice, a wife and two small children, and I like to run. Trying to find the time to do it all is a big challenge. I do most of the blogging in the early mornings and at night after the kids fall asleep. This interview, for example, is being typed at 10:00 p.m. I watch very little TV, so that is an extra hour or so that I have that others might not.

5a. Rob La Gatta: What has been the biggest reward to come from it?

Eric Turkewitz: Every so often a new client will mention the blog, which makes me feel good because there isn’t anything on it that screams "call me"; they may have called because they liked something I wrote. And other lawyers will mention it from time to time, especially when it deals with the issue of tort “reform” or a recent judicial opinion. I also tend to read many more appellate decisions that I did previously, as I look for news and trends in the law.

And last week, I saw this post dealing with judicial pay raises hanging on the wall outside of a judge’s courtroom, next to editorials from the New York Times and the Daily News. How cool is that?

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