Years in the making, Kendall Gray‘s The Appellate Record has proven to be the perfect client development tool for the Houston attorney.

Gray, a partner at AmLaw 200 firm Andrews Kurth, faced the challenge of persuading his firm to allow him to blog. Having been a non-law blogger and someone who’d done CLE speaking at appellate conferences, starting a blog in his practice area seemed like a practical step. However, it took two to three years before the blog came together and launched in March of 2010.

"[We] sort of worked through the issues of what level of review there’s going to be and what kind of voice is an appropriate voice for a big firm talking about court decisions," said Gray, "and finally sort of arrived at a protocol that would allow us to do that and keep everyone at the firm happy and secure and yet still have something to say in a voice that somebody would want to read."

The last part has been the key to success for Gray, as he writes in an entertaining and conversational tone that’s both easy to comprehend and enjoyable to read. Also, as he guides other attorneys on raising the level of their writing, he finds that it has the nice side effect of improving the quality of his writing as well.

While the boost to his own writing has been nice, it’s nothing compared to the effect publishing a blog has on Gray’s client development efforts.

"Mostly, it’s been gratifying in the sense that it’s the perfect kind of marketing for me. I’m a writer, I’m comfortable writing, I have a voice in writing and so I can do that," Gray said. "If you restricted me to marketing or business development by cocktail receptions and golf outings, I’d die. It’s death warmed over for me."

However, when looking at the reach of Gray’s publication and the feedback he’s received as a result of his writing, comparing it to golf and cocktail receptions seems almost laughable.

"People who I don’t even know and people that I do know walk up to me and say ‘I love the blog, I read the blog all the time, yours is the one blog that I go to,’" Gray said. "I’ve had all the members of the Supreme Court of Texas that I’ve talked with say ‘I love the blog,’ all their briefing attorneys say ‘I love the blog, we read your blog all the time.’ Same thing with the local court of appeals."

Gray said he’s received a lot of feedback not just from individuals in Houston and Texas, but nationally as well. A good deal of the feedback has come as a result of Gray’s excellent "Nerdlaw" series on legal writing.

The most recent post Gray wrote in the series—on "typewriter rules" for drafting briefs, held over from another era—was inspired by an email he received from an appellate attorney in Georgia. That post then received a comment from another attorney Alabama, noting the ridiculous rules attorneys in that state were forced to abide by.

"It’s not me creating content to say, ‘Look at me, look at me,’ it’s a method of creating content that leads to an opportunity to connect," Gray said.

With putting together a paper on "Nerdlaws" and starting a new series titled "Things Make My Head Explode" tentatively planned for the future, Gray said he doesn’t plan on reining things in anytime soon.

"I do anticipate that I’ll be blogging indefinitely so long as I’m practicing appellate law just because it fits me, it fits what I do, it fits my practice and it gives me something to talk about with folks instead of staring at our cocktail drinks wondering when the reception’s going to be over."


You can listen to my full interview with Kendall by downloading it using this link or streaming it using the player below.