Boise criminal defense attorney Chuck Peterson started blogging to give himself a voice in the arena of criminal law. At the Idaho Criminal Defense Blog, he shares his take on issues in the news, questions from clients and cases he feels are useful.
He knows his blog is successful because he can share anecdote after anecdote of people reaching out to him through his blog.
"I think the blog helps to create the impression that I am the go-to guy if you are in trouble," Chuck says. "You don’t get that with advertising."
Chuck’s idea of a "great blog post" is simply "to be brief and find a voice that will attract interest. Cases just seem to follow."
We reached out to Chuck for this LexBlog Q&A and heard more of his stories of clients and others contacting him because of his blog posts.
See our e-mail exchange with Chuck (after the jump).
Lisa Kennelly: Why did you decide to start a blog?
Chuck Peterson: I was reading the Mac Lawyer and Supreme Court of the United States blogs and liked the way the writers were able to share their perspectives on cases and developments in the practice of law, so I thought that starting a blog would give me a voice. I had no idea if anyone would actually read what I wrote, but it seemed like an opportunity to help solidify my position in the local market and discuss the things I wanted to discuss.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most rewarding about blogging?
A couple months ago a woman from Michigan called me to talk about her case. She had been convicted of a crime and was fearful of going to the sentencing hearing. She thought she was going to go to prison — she was right. We talked for an hour or so about what she was facing and how she might better be prepared. In the end, I was able to help her through a tough time. She wasn’t my client, and I didn’t know anything about her case other than what she told me, but it was good to try and help. Without that blog she never would have known I was here and would not have called. Maybe I made a difference — funny thing is she made a difference in my life. I need that reminder that what I do has value — that it’s not just "reasonable doubt for a reasonable price."
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most challenging about blogging?
Chuck Peterson: Writing on a consistent basis is the most challenging part of this for me. I get busy and I find excuses to not write, or not edit, or not think about the quality of what I am writing. So my challenge is to try to do a better job of writing interesting posts on a consistent basis.
What kind of response have you seen to your blog from lawyers, clients, or anyone else?
Chuck Peterson: I had a lawyer from a big firm call me last week about a case. He had been reading a post I had written on hiring a lawyer with experience, even when the times are tough and money is tight. His clients had a kid in big trouble and not much money. We talked about the case and I met the parents and in the end they stuck with the public defender. Money was really tight and there was not much I could do to help their son or end their sleepless nights. That big firm lawyer called me to thank me for the time, and said he felt lucky that someone with my experience had taken the time to meet his friends.
I think the blog helps to create the impression that I am the go-to guy if you are in trouble. You don’t get that with advertising.
Lisa Kennelly: What other criminal defense blogs or other law blogs do you read?
Chuck Peterson: I do occasionally read other criminal defense blogs, and I get some good ideas. Mostly though, I read blogs written by lawyers who practice in other areas. For example – I really love Macintosh computers and have used them in my practice for twenty or so years, so I read the Mac Lawyer to get ideas for my work. I also like 43 Folders — generally a productivity blog — and Ernie the Attorney.
Lisa Kennelly: Do you ever struggle for ideas for blog posts, and how do you get through writer’s block?
Chuck Peterson: I have been taking ideas from the phone calls I get every day. Somebody calls me and wants to know about DUIs? Answer their questions in the blog. I also like news — like last week, when a couple teenagers who had murdered their parents ended up with very different "life" sentences. That stuff is too good to overlook.
Will it bring in new cases? Not sure, but then again, people call me and tell me they have read my blog and they need — yes, they say "need" — to talk about their problem. People with needs look for help. I have not had big time writer’s block, probably because my idea of a great post is to be brief and find a voice that will attract interest. Cases just seem to follow.
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