This isn’t our first time featuring Stem Legal’s Steve Matthews as a guest for the LexBlog Q & A; back in February, he stopped by and chatted with us about search engine optimization and how it works (or doesn’t).

Today, the Vancouver-based SEO specialist is back, talking about Canadian law blogs. Bell Canada’s Dominic Jaar offered us a bit of insight on the state of the Canadian legal blogosphere when we spoke to him recently…but for today’s interview, that issue was the focal point. Steve’s insights on where it is and where he sees it going in the future, after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: Is it safe to say that Canadian lawyers are not embracing the legal blogosphere as quickly as their American counterparts? Why or why not?

Steve Matthews: Actually, the Canadian legal blogosphere is right on par. The current number of lawyer blogs in the U.S. is around 2000, and the Canadian legal market is 1/20th in terms of size. My running list of Canadian law blogs on is sitting at 116 as of April 1st, 2008. So there’s really not much difference in the adoption rate.

2. Rob La Gatta: Do you have any idea at what rate Canadian legal blogs are popping up (i.e. # per month)? Do you expect the number to have a greater increase in 2008 than it did in 2007?

Steve Matthews: Because we’re smaller in number, it’s tough to estimate. I almost always add 1 or 2 each month, and sometimes as many as 3 or 4. I hope there will be an increase in 2008, but again it’s difficult to say.

3. Rob La Gatta: Dominic Jaar has said Canada is about 3-5 years behind the U.S. when it comes to adopting new technologies. Do you believe this to be the case? If so, do you expect this rule to apply to blogging?

Steve Matthews: I would say 2-3 years. There’s a definite gap, but it always depends on the firm in question and the technology. Many of the big firms, and especially the national firms, are very close to what’s going on in the U.S.

Having just come from Clark Wilson in Vancouver, my perspective may also be distorted on the positive side. The firm was always progressive – combing through the ILTA conference each year, implementing new technologies, and investing on a regular basis. As an example, we were blogging internally – everyone from the mail room to the Managing Partner – several years before the concept was even mentioned in U.S. publications. Not that U.S. firms weren’t doing the same, but we’re Canadians… sometimes we’re just (too) quiet about our innovation.

On the blogging front, I would say the lag is with our larger firms. Blogging gets some support, but it’s often done under the radar, and there are few firm sponsored initiatives. I would also describe this as the demographic that is about to break through. I suspect it will only take a couple of early adopters, and the land grab will be on.

4. Rob La Gatta: As you alluded to earlier, is living list of Canadian law blogs on the web. Does that page get a lot of traffic? When reviewing this data, is there anything that is particularly surprising to you?

Steve Matthews: The site gets several thousand visitors per month, mostly from law firms. The numbers aren’t huge, but the fact that firms are checking out the competition makes me suspect at least a few of them are kicking the tires.

I’d also say that creating this list, and then moving it to its own website, was probably one of the smartest things I’ve done. Not only does it force me to watch for new Canadian blogs, but it also gives me a chance to get to know a lot of Canadian law bloggers. I’m a big believer in community, but communities need infrastructure. This is just my contribution.

5. Rob La Gatta: What are some of the most noticeable differences between how Canadian and American lawyers who are blogging approach it? Do you see any noteworthy patterns?

Steve Matthews:

One aspect Canadian law bloggers do very well is the social side of blogging. We actively read and link to each other’s blogs. There are many  great conversations, debates, and generally a strong web-community being developed.

It could be the fact that we’re smaller, but I also give a lot of credit to, our Canadian legal blogging co-op. Simon Fodden has done a great job of expanding both the range of participants and the topics we’re discussing. There’s also a core group of us that work hard at welcoming & acknowledging new Canadian legal blogs. I think that’s important.

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