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Democratizing publishing never gets old : Why many lawyers blog

Ben Franklin Printing Press
“Democratizing publishing never gets old.”

This from Scott Berkun (@berkun), author and former project lead at Automattic, a WordPress development company, speaking at WordCamp Seattle 2012.

What a thought for American lawyers? “Democratizing publishing.”

Benjamin Franklin started out in publishing in Boston, working for his brother at age 12. Seeing greater opportunity, Franklin moved to Philadelphia to open his own printing and publishing company.

From Mary Bellis, a journalist with the NY Times

Benjamin Franklin’s publications reflected his democratic spirit and so were popular in format and content. Poor Richard’s Almanac consisted of stories about a fictional “Poor Richard” whose trials and tribulations provided an ideal context in which Franklin could advise readers on politics, philosophy, and how to get ahead in the world.

Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette provided information about politics to the people. Ben Franklin used political cartoons to illustrate news stories and to heighten reader appeal. The May 9, 1754 issue included Join, or Die, which is widely considered the first American political cartoon. Devised by Franklin, the cartoon reflected concern about increasing French pressure along the western frontier of the colonies.

Imagine what Franklin would think today with WordPress at his disposal. In Franklin’s day publishing was an incredibly laborious process. Setting led letters onto flat iron presses. Cleaning the led and presses, with urine, I am told.

Democratizing publishing. Very cool. Very empowering concept for lawyers.

Kudos to the American lawyers and lawyers from around the world who have harnessed the power of blogging.

  • To advance the law by offering their insight and commentary in an open source collaborative fashion.
  • To help others, whether in-housel, executives, consumers, or small business people, by freely sharing legal information and insight.
  • To improve their own station in life and that of their families by becoming a better lawyer through analytical reading and writing which blogging requires. Better lawyers do get better work from better clients.

It’s disappointing that some lawyers have latched onto blogging as a marketing and SEO gimmick. Some going so far as to even have marketing companies write blog content on the lawyer’s behalf.

What would have America been like if Franklin hired out his thinking and writing to folks looking to make a buck?

Sure, there’s always an easier way.

But being part of ‘democratizing publishing’ as means of becoming a better lawyer and as a means of growing ones reputation as a lawyer is a concept good lawyers ought to be able to rally around.

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