Ohio environmental attorney Joseph Koncelik spent over a decade in state government before entering private practice, and he uses that unique experience to fuel the posts on his Ohio Environmental Law Blog.
"I really like to do more then just provide case law or regulatory updates on my blog," Joe says. "I really want to try and provide a unique take or valuable insight."
Like many lawyer-bloggers, Joe, an attorney at Cleveland-based Frantz Ward LLP, started blogging to market his practice. But he also wanted to use his blog as a new avenue to discuss issues he’s passionate about.
The most rewarding aspect, he says, has been the contacts he’s made through blogging, whether it’s readers from out of state or media contacts at publications like Newsweek and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And, of course, the contacts made in the blogging community.
"By far the most unexpected response has been from other bloggers," Joe says. "I am consistently impressed with the willingness of other bloggers to collaborate, share ideas and try to improve each other blogs."
We caught up with Joe for this LexBlog Q&A and discussed more about his reasons for blogging and how fruitful the practice area of environmental law is for blogging right now.
See our e-mail exchange with Joe (after the jump).
Lisa Kennelly: Why did you decide to start a blog?
Joe Koncelik: Probably like many attorneys, first and foremost I was looking for a way to market my practice. However, I also liked the idea of using my blog as a "soap box" to discuss issues I care about. Prior to private practice I held senior positions in state government, so policy issues are in my blood. I was looking for a new avenue to stay in the discussion. Finally, I thought blogging would force me to be more tech-savvy and I recognized my skills needed some improvement.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most rewarding about blogging?
Joe Koncelik: First, watching my traffic steadily grow over time. While high traffic isn’t the only thing that matters, I do think it’s one way to measure the success of your blog. Second, I have been blown away by the contacts I have made through blogging. It’s just cool to me that somebody in Maine, for example, found my blog and enjoyed it or thought it had useful information. Third, getting interviews and coverage because of my blog. I have done interviews with national news publications like Newsweek, trade publications like Inside EPA, and local newspapers like the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But above all, its really nice when someone tells you they really like your blog or found a post particularly helpful. These comments keep me energized.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most challenging?
Joe Koncelik: My biggest challenge has been finding a way to use my blog to land business. It definitely is a good marketing tool by increasing your exposure. As Kevin O’Keefe likes to say, it allows you to try and become a "thought leader" in your area. However, like many attorneys I also want new business through my blog. While I have been contacted for small matters, I have not landed significant business through my blog.
I know there is significant debate in the blogosphere as to whether blogging can lead directly to new clients. I think if you are a attorney practicing family law. personal injury, criminal or plaintiff’s work I see where blogging could generate significant business. However, I’m less certain about others areas of practice where you are trying to land business through a general counsel or senior vice president with a corporation. I’d love to hear from fellow bloggers who have found ways to land that type of business through blogging. I’m open to new ideas or constructive criticism.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been the response from other lawyers, clients, bloggers, members of your firm, or anyone else?
Joe Koncelik: Overall, I have had a very positive response. I have had a wide variety of people contact me, including: reporters, potential clients, federal law clerks, colleagues, professors, students as well as fellow bloggers. I am lucky to have a very supportive firm that provides me great latitude in marketing my practice, including my blog. Attorneys often ask where I find the time to maintain my blog. There is no doubt you have to enjoy the process of blogging because you will be devoting significant amount of your own time maintaining and developing your blog. By far the most unexpected response has been from other bloggers. I am consistently impressed with the willingness of other bloggers to collaborate, share ideas and try to improve each other blogs.
Lisa Kennelly: Do you ever struggle to come up with things to write about, and how do you get past "writer’s block"?
Joe Koncelik: I am lucky, my area is scorching hot right now, so there never seems to be a shortage of material to discuss. However, I really like to do more then just provide case law or regulatory updates on my blog. I really want to try and provide a unique take or valuable insight. I worked as a regulator for many years in senior policy positions and I am now working in private practice, I believe my background allows me to provide some unique insights. The challenge comes in trying to continually create quality posts.
Lisa Kennelly: Do you think your practice areas of environmental law and renewable energy (hot topics in the news right now) are particularly suited to blogging?
Joe Koncelik: I am not sure I would say my area is "particularly suited to blogging." I think you can provide a good blog in a multitude of areas. In some ways it’s more about the author than the subject matter. However, there is no doubt that there is a tremendous amount of activity in climate change, environmental law and renewable energy. With the change in Administration I don’t think people outside of this area truly grasp the scope of change that is occurring. This makes it truly enjoyable to be blogging on these topics right now. Blogging also forces you to keep up with the developments which is particularly important during a period of such massive change.
When I investigated starting my blog, I looked at a lot of existing environmental blogs. I saw an opportunity to try and bring a unique perspective. There are a lot of blogs out there that cover the "green" perspective. For lack of a better description, they blog about the cause of being "green." There are also a number of lawyers and law firms who provide highly informative blogs or newsletters regarding regulatory and policy updates. While I include those updates in my blog, I try and also provide unique content. I care about protecting the environment, but I also care passionately about effective and efficient regulations. My goal is to provide insight and commentary that will be useful to businesses trying to navigate this complex area.