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Are we seeing the demise of law blogs?

20130329-214420.jpg My friend and DC attorney, Carolyn Elefant (@carolynelefant) penned a couple weeks ago that we’re seeing the decline of law blogging.

Carolyn’s reasoning was based in large part on the message we should take from Google closing down Google Reader.

So what can we learn from the demise of Google Reader? First, that blogging (at least conversational blogging rather than blogging for SEO) is on the decline (I know that my buddy Kevin O’Keefe will disagree – but hear me out. GoogleReader grew out of Google’s launch of Blogger and provided a tool to make it easier for blogs to gain traffic. Here, my experience is typical; as a long time blogger, I relied heavily on GoogleReader for new stories (particularly when I was pumping out ten to twelve posts a week during my three year stint at Legal Blogwatch.

Yet lately, I’ve noticed that many of the younger people who’ve passed through my office as interns or clerks over the past few years don’t use GoogleReader, relying instead on other services like email alerts or GoogleNews tools to track new events.

Elefant goes on to lament that a younger generation of lawyers really doesn’t know what blogging means. They’re hooked on the big name blogs ala Above The Law or Huffington Post. They look to curation sites, many just pulled together for SEO, rather than listening to what is being shared and discussed on blogs via an RSS reader so as to engage in a conversation via blogging.

But blogging is not on the decline. The evidence is to the contrary.

Blogging continues to grow and the opportunity for you as lawyer to carve out, via blogging, a strong reputation in an area you are passionate about has never been greater.

  • Tumblr is now home to over 100 million blogs and 44.6 billion individual posts, doubling the 20 billion marker Tumblr hit just last March. Tumblr’s users are cranking out 82.7 million posts each day.
  • In a Wall Street Journal article last month, Brad Feld (@bfeld), a widely respected investor and entrepreneur, pointed out that blog readership is at an all time high and continues to grow providing a tremendous opportunity to market yourself or organization.
  • The number of AmLaw 200 law firms blogging has grown almost 30% in just the last thirteen months. (State of the AmLaw 200 Blogosphere)
  • The number of blogs published by AmLaw 200 law firms has almost doubled in that same time frame. (same report)

Sure, blogging has changed. Only six or seven years ago blogging was the only game in town to listen to and engage in online discussion. We blogged about what each other wrote on their blogs and listened to what each other wrote via an RSS reader.

We didn’t have Twitter to respond, let alone LinkedIn or Facebook to engage others. Now many lawyers use Twitter, not an RSS reader, to listen to what is being written on blogs and news sites. We didn’t have apps such as Flipboard or Zite so as to read relevant curated content.

Arguably, these additional social media and apps have raised the quality of engagement and insight emanating from law blogs. They’re sure making blogging more fun and less time intensive.

No question that not all law bloggers are up to speed on engagement through blogging. Many don’t care, they’re just chasing SEO. For other lawyers it’ll take time and a little coaching and encouragement. Not every lawyer could stomach the Wild Wild West ‘learn as we go’ days of law blogging that many of us loved.

But just as in 2003 when many of us saw blogging as a perfect fit for lawyers, there are many lawyers (many more than in 2003) who are just finding blogs a good fit to enhance their reputation and build relationships.

May sound crazy, but I think the evidence is that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to law blogging.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Robert Nyman.

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