I had the good fortune to meet Silvia Hodges Silverstein via blogging and social media, first, and then in person earlier this year at ReInvent Law in New York City.

Dr. Hodges Silverstein (@SilviaHodges) researches, publishes, teaches, and speaks on topics related to corporate procurement of legal services, as well as law firm management and change in law firms. She’s not only been studying client purchasing decisions for over a decade, it was the topic of her PhD.

Dr. Hodges Silverstein is the Founder & Executive director at Buying Legal Council and teaches courses in law firm management and law firm marketing as a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School and as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School.

We have a common passion in empowering law students to blog. So it was my pleasure getting an opportunity to interview Dr. Hodges Silverstein, a blogger in her own right at The Law Firm as a Business.

Why did you consider teaching law students to blog?

Young lawyers need to differentiate themselves if they want to have a chance in today’s competitive market. Blogging can help them do this and start making a name for themselves.

It takes time to become a thought leader, but you have to start somewhere. It’s a first step towards building your own brand.

Blogging gives them a platform and the opportunity to engage with others interested in their chosen field, get exposure for their big ideas and deep thoughts.

Rather than just being told about the advantages of blogging and reading blog posts, I wanted them to learn by doing. They choose a topic they are passionate about on a professional level and blog about it. Do they want to be famous for fighting patent trolls? Divorce law in New Jersey? Fashion law?

How did your law students respond?

Students signing up for my law firm marketing class know they have to blog, since many of them have taken my law firm management class before or come by word-of-mouth from other students.

After picking their blog topic and setting up their site, they write their first post that I critique and grade.

The point of their post needs to be clear, the post needs to be interesting, readable and engage the reader. The blog posts have to be unique, original content – no re-writes of existing content, with a clear message/call-to-action, and they have to be topically appropriate for the blog they have chosen.

Students have to publish on a regular basis and follow editorial and optimization guidelines.

Do you see law blogging as a learning opportunity for law students?

Absolutely. Preparing to write a blog post forces you to research the topic, dig deeper into the issue. You need to understand who has written about it already, what are different points of view etc. You learn about different stakeholders’ issues and claim your own ground. You also learn what engages blog readers, what furthers the debate and so on.

My students are quick learners, I see great improvement after a short time.

Is blogging an opportunity to grow one’s network and reputation while still in law school?

You don’t become a thought leader or have a great network over night. You have to start somewhere — expressing an interest in a topic, engaging with others.

Blogging lets you be part of the debate and reach out. I have received feedback from former students who said that blogging helped them land their job. It distinguished them from their competitors and gave them something great to talk about in the interview.

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Thanks Dr. Hodges Silverstein for your thoughts. More to come one law student blogging in upcoming interviews and posts.

Image courtesy of Flickr by marsmetn tallahassee