Our guest for today’s LexBlog Q & A is John Bolch, the second UK-based law blogger to be featured in the hot seat. John has been practicing family law since becoming a solicitor on April 1, 1985 – that’s 23 years ago from today – and writes the law blog Family Lore.
After our first English guest Nick Holmes called John the "leading UK family law blogger," we decided to track him down for an interview. The end result – in which John offers insights on the state of the English blogosphere, how it differs from its American counterpart, and where he sees the whole thing going – is available after the jump.
1. Rob La Gatta: Do you think it’s safe to say that attorneys in the UK are taking longer to enter the blogosphere than Americans? Why or why not?
John Bolch: This is probably true, although obviously there are far fewer attorneys in the UK – I don’t know what the proportion of law blogs to attorneys is in each country.
What is the reason for this? Well, it does seem that lawyers over here are generally less computer-literate than their American counterparts. They also seem to be far more resistant to change, and perhaps even suspicious of new technologies…especially an interactive technology such as blogging, over which they may fear they do not have complete control.
2. Rob La Gatta: Your blog features posts dating back to early 2006. What made you start blogging at a time when many UK lawyers were not?
John Bolch: I have long been interested in computing – I purchased my first computer way back in 1983, long before most law firms over here possessed one. I was therefore aware of blogging almost from the start, and had been contemplating writing my own blog for some while. I was held back by concerns that I would not have anything interesting to say.
Then, in January 2006, I read an article about law blogs in the Law Society’s Gazette and thought: why not? After all, I had more than 20 years’ experience to call upon. Family Lore was up and running within a couple of days.
3. Rob La Gatta: Do you think the UK attorneys that have started blogging are seeing any business benefits from it? Are you?
John Bolch: I think this depends upon the type of blog. A number of UK law blogs are written anonymously (something I can’t recall coming across in the US), and obviously they will see little or no direct benefit. Other blogs are clearly written as an advertisement for the skills and expertise of the blogger (some are an integral part of their firm’s website) and I suspect that they are directly attracting some clients. Attracting business is not the primary purpose of my blog (if it were, I would be rather more circumspect with what I post!) and the number of clients it has brought me is small, although this does seem to be increasing.
4. Rob La Gatta: In America, different state bar associations have different regulations on blogging, some of which are far more restrictive than others. Are there any such laws in the UK governing what an attorney can or cannot say when blogging?
John Bolch: So far as I am aware, none of the UK professional bodies yet have any regulations specific to blogging, although I believe some larger firms have their own in-house rules.
5. Rob La Gatta: When and if the English legal blogosphere takes off, who do you think will drive it: large firms? Small firms? GCs? Solo practitioners?
John Bolch: If the English legal blogosphere does take off, my feeling is that it will be mostly driven by small to medium-sized firms, possibly as their only web presence, as the format is a cost-effective way to raise their profile – provided they are prepared to put the effort in to maintain the blog.
The other thing to say here is that we do of course have a split profession over here, and it may be that the personal nature of blogging is more attractive to barristers than solicitors – I think it’s already true that a higher proportion of barristers have embraced blogging.
Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:
- Stuart Buck, attorney with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel PLLC and author of the blog The Buck Stops Here [3.27.08]
- Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and author of the blog The Common Scold [3.26.08]
- Mary Flood, reporter for the Houston Chronicle and author of the blog Legal Trade [3.24.08]
- Hugh Hewitt, executive editor of TownHall.com and author of the blog at HughHewitt.com [3.18.08]
- TechShow Q & A: Brett Burney, principal at Burney Consultants and author of the blog ediscoveryinfo [3.12.08]
Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.