BlogHer ’08: Ditch the legalese, says Kelly Phillips Erb

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Stacey Merrick, LexBlog’s Director of Client Services, is in San Francisco today and through the weekend attending BlogHer 2008, the annual conference for women who blog.

This morning, Stacey checked in and attended her first event – “What We Do: Taking Care of Business,” which was hosted by lawyers Kelly Phillips Erb & Linsey Krolik and Palo Alto Software CEO Sabrina Parsons. After the panel, which focused on the business side of blogging and what that could mean for you as a blogger, Stacey had the chance to ask Kelly what it takes for a member of the legal community to write good posts.

According to Kelly, whose blog TaxGirl is one of the most well-respected tax blogs around, a major problem blogging lawyers face is their inability to remove themselves from the mentality of writing like a lawyer. Stacey reports:

She believes that writing how you talk is key to crafting good blog posts. No one talks using “ergo,” “therefore” and that type of legalese. When she first started out, Kelly claims, her father made up the blog’s entire audience. He would pose questions, and she would write posts as answers to those questions like she would answer them if the two were having a casual conversation.

Ultimately, Kelly stresses, blogging lawyers should remember who their audience is; after all, even other lawyers don’t want to read legalese in a blog post.

This is a great point; too often we see lawyers who obviously understand the significance of a ruling or legal development but can’t convey that significance without falling back on the terminology they’ve held with them since law school. Sure, old habits die hard…but when lawyers experiment with a conversational tone in their blogs, they are opening themselves up to a whole new audience that isn’t necessarily limited to the legal community.

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