As a former plaintiff’s trial lawyer who had good success marketing on the Internet, I’m sickened by the way many personal injury lawyers blog.

  • Copying news stories for keywords and key phrases for the SEO shame game.
  • Wrapping up each post with the classic if this awful thing happened to you call the law firm of ‘Clowns R Us’ at 1-800-law-hurt because we help people like those killed in the car accident as reported in this news story we just copied from the newspaper.
  • Blogging on sub-domains of Internet marketing companies who screen your cases (from a limited geographic area of course) and collect 1/3 of the fees you earn.

Get a grip on yourselves. Have some pride. Don’t leave your common sense behind when you turn the computer on.

You can have a wonderful personal injury blog. On your own domain that you keep for ever. That causes people in town to refer work to you. That causes people in town and the local media to talk about the good things you’re doing with your blog. And that performs exceedingly well on the search engines.

How? Think of your blog as a weekly call in radio show where the the hosting DJ has broken down the show down into three segments.

1) Updates on the law as if the DJ asked ‘Have there been any major developments in the law the last week.’

This will be brief, perhaps 10% of the show. Don’t bore people to death with appellate court decisions reversing a jury verdict and judgment because of an oddball jury instruction the judge gave. But if the state’s minimum limits for underinsured motorist or uninsured motorist coverage changed, that’s the type of thing to share. Same for a state supreme court decision that found that insurance agents cannot be sued for failure to disclose needed insurance coverage because there’s no fiduciary duty. Share it. Average folks in your community should know that.

2) Answer common questions as if the DJ was taking calls. This is the lion’s share of the show, maybe 70% of it.

Make them real questions and real answers, without disclosing enough to blow confidentiality. ‘I got a call from a women whose husband was working at a construction site who asked…’ ‘A client asked me today why they need to disclose this or that to the defendant insurance company…’ You get questions all the time from prospective and current clients. Keep track of them on a legal pad on the right side of your desk.

People ask questions about particular situations before they hire you. It’s a rare bird that calls up and says I heard you’re wonderful, please fax over the contingency agreement so I can sign it. Why didn’t the insurance company pay after I saw their doctor who must have found my injury and resulting disability to be real? I got hit by non employer Acme Co cement truck at work, can I recover more than worker’s compensation?

Questions and answers are gold for a lot of reasons:

  • It’s the content people want. For every one person who asked the question, there’s a hundred others looking for the answer on the Internet. Why guess what people want on your blog, they’re already telling you.
  • It shows you care. People dislike lawyers and do not believe we care. Imagine their coming across your blog where you’re answering a question once or twice a week. And the questions and answers are broken down into categories in the navigation. Wow! You stick out like a shining star among other lawyers in your community.
  • It shows you can talk with folks like a non-lawyer. The best compliment I got from jurors and bailiffs was that I didn’t sound like a lawyer. I’m not sure what a lawyer is supposed to sound like, but if I’m talking in such a way that the average person in town relates to what I’m saying, I’ll take it.
  • It shows you take people’s phone calls and sit down to talk with injured people and their family members before they become a client. I don’t care if you have free consultation and your 800 number in 48 point font in flashing fuschia green. People don’t trust you. They are not excited to call. That all changes when you talk about people calling and coming on and how you responded.
  • It shows you have command of the subject. You’ve been around the corner. You’ve worked up good cases. You’ve had to tell folks with catastrophic injuries that they can’t prove liability. You’ve tried cases to verdict. You know how dam hard it is for people to find a med mal lawyer even on a good claim. You know some insurers fight to the death on legitimate claims so as to cause injured people to give up. Call upon what’s now common sense and share it with folks.

3) Share a few things, offering your take, that you’ve read in your RSS newsreader by which you’re following A-list law bloggers and A-list keywords and key phrases from Google Blog Search and Google News. It’s as if the DJ asked ‘Have you read anything in the news the last week that our listeners would be interested in?’

A number of reasons for this:

  • Following good trial lawyer blogs makes you a better lawyer. The content is good and you’ll begin to network with those lawyers even though they may be thousands of miles away.
  • Shows you’re all over things related to your practice. How did you see this story in the San Diego Union on tort reform when you’re located in Birmingham? How did you see this story shared by a leading lawyer in another state? Wow! This lawyer is all over the law and the area they practice.
  • Most importantly it gets you into a conversation among leading lawyers and gets reporters to contact you. You start referencing blogs and stories in newspapers and the lawyers and reporters see you. In the case of bloggers, they’ll subscribe to your blog. They’ll share what you say offering their take. For reporters you may need to email them letting them know ‘Good story, shared it with my readers, glad to be of help anytime as this is what I cover.’ Not only are bloggers and reporters marketing your blog by citing it, but by their citing what you write in your blog, they are building a great list of citations prospective clients see when they Google your name. How many other lawyers in town have been cited as an authority by lawyers around the country and reporters?

This brief post doesn’t do the topic justice, but people have been asking me to share my advice on personal injury blogs. Perhaps we could do a free webinar on the subject in the upcoming month. Let me know if you’re interested and we’ll set it up.