Gideon Alper isn’t yet a full-fledged lawyer, but his blog matches up against the best law blogs out there by people who’ve been practicing law for a long time.
The third-year law student at Emory University started the Gay Couples Law Blog to fill a niche he saw available in the conversation about the legal issues, particularly tax and estate planning, surrounding same sex couples.
The outpouring of response in the few months the blog has been live speaks to the appetite for a blog on this topic.
“The blog launched just two months ago, but already I’ve gotten a positive response from three groups of people: other attorneys, gay rights organizations, and same sex couples,” Gideon says.
In addition, Gideon is building up a body of work and a name for himself online that few other recent law graduates will be able to match.
“Here’s the benefit,” he says. “When I graduate in May, I’ll already be a referral source for other attorneys as well as a go-to-person for advice about a niche area of law. How many other law students can say that?”
We caught up with Gideon for this LexBlog Q&A to find out more about why he started blogging and what kind of response he’s received.
See our email exchange with Gideon, after the jump.
Lisa Kennelly: Why did you decide to start a blog?
Gideon Alper: I was told many years ago that when it comes to the legal business, the golden rule is that whoever makes the gold makes the rules. I knew from talking with other lawyers that blogging can attract clients. I thought that starting a blog would let me generate business early in my career. I hoped that I could eventually use the blog to help start my own practice.
Also, I wanted to network. But I don’t like real life networking functions. I don’t want to go to receptions. I don’t want to join a local sports team to meet other professionals. I don’t want to go to this organization’s cocktail party or that company’s annual something-or-another. Blogging lets me meet other attorneys and professionals in a way that fits my personality. I get to know these professionals in a medium I’ve comfortable with. And I actually end up meeting a lot more people from a wider variety of places than I would otherwise. Ultimately, blogging gets me excited to network, something I’d never thought I’d be.
Finally, I love to write, so blogging lets me use my legal training in a way that I enjoy.
Lisa Kennelly: Your blog has a unique, niche topic – how did you decide on it?
Gideon Alper: I wanted to blog about something I was passionate about. I enjoyed my estate planning and tax classes in law school and was already following the law surrounding gay couples, so I figured I’d start looking for a topic there.
Since the laws affecting gay couples frequently change and get national media attention, I was surprised to discover how many attorneys already had blogs on the topic: zero. Sure, some attorneys were posting occasionally on these issues, but nobody focused on it. I thought, “Here’s an area of law (1) that is constantly in flux, (2) whose client base doesn’t have access to legal information targeting their needs, and (3) where attorneys can add value through creative legal solutions.” When I realized how little conversation there was about legal issues I was personally interested in, I knew I’d found my niche.
Lisa Kennelly: What has the response been like to your blog, and from whom?
Gideon Alper: Every week more people read my blog and contact me about things I post. The blog launched just two months ago, but already I’ve gotten a positive response from three groups of people: other attorneys, gay rights organizations, and same sex couples. First, other estate planning and tax attorneys are linking to my posts and have complimented me on my writing style. Some attorneys have asked for advice about legal issues concerning their gay clients.
Second, gay rights organizations and political blogs are sharing my content with their members and readers. In this way, the political side of the legal issues I cover is helping increase my visibility. In fact, I want to work on engaging these organizations to further increase my readership.
Still, the most satisfying response has been from gay couples who have emailed me to thank me for providing information targeting their needs in a way that’s easy to understand.
Lisa Kennelly: What have you learned about blogging so far that you didn’t expect?
Gideon Alper: I was surprised how easy it’s been to find stuff to write about. I thought that as a law student I wouldn’t know enough to comment on legal issues surrounding gay couples or to even know what the legal issues were. But I learn as I go, and every single day there’s news or commentary about some development in this area of law.
Lisa Kennelly: How do you feel a law blog can be beneficial for a law student, and how can it be challenging?
Gideon Alper: Here’s the benefit: when I graduate in May, I’ll already be a referral source for other attorneys as well as a go-to-person for advice about a niche area of law. How many other law students can say that?
Probably very few. For some reason, other students aren’t taking advantage of social media. In fact, I don’t know of a single other law student anywhere with a legal blog. Sure, there’s plenty of blogs about life in law school, but those focus on the students themselves instead of on an area of law.
The recession has made it hard for many of my classmates to get a job. That’s because employers don’t think these students are valuable enough to justify a salary. If they did think so, they would hire them. Writing a blog creates value. Both the credibility with other attorneys and the ability to generate business would make a student more worth a salary. Instead of spending day after day searching for someone to hire them as they are, students without jobs could make themselves more valuable through blogging.
The only challenge is time, but that’s the case with anything worthwhile.
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Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.