By Kevin O'Keefe

Want the ear of federal regulators? Blog.


There’s been some talk recently that the growth of law blogs has stagnated a bit. It’s something Bob Ambrogi mentioned recently on his blog, highlighting the Legal Technology Survey Report from the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center.

We disagree a bit with the results, though it’s fair to admit our methods and sample size are surely different. For example, our recent research focuses primarily on blog use by large law—particularly the Am Law 200, for which LexBlog partners with firms in these ranks on several hundred blogs.

Instead of stagnation, we see this:

large law growth

Not only was the overall number of blogs up, but the firms blogging increased—and the number of blogs per firm jumped 50 percent.

Why do we see large law firms continue to push so strongly into online publishing through blogging? It could any number of things. Maybe it’s resources. Could be the larger teams of attorneys available, maybe just the number of different subjects to write about.

A big part of it is the return. For large law firms, they know the type work they’re involved in. They have lawyers who are not only working with the law, constructing deals and litigating under it—but professionals who are truly shaping the law itself.

And the blogs play an integral role.

Yesterday, you saw the first LXBN Leaders article to be cross-posted here on Real Lawyers Have Blogs. We’ve actually been running those for a while on LXBN, with the total closing in on 50. Of all the profiles we’ve done, one on Ballard Spahr’s CFPB Monitor remains one of my favorites.

Because it’s difficult to top this anecdote from Ballard Spahr partner Alan Kaplinsky—on whether or not his blog’s words reach the halls of the agency he covers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“I’m told by people that everybody there reads our blog…I met CFPB Director Richard Cordray for the first time earlier this year when I got selected by the CFPB to be an industry witness…I told him ‘this is the first time we’ve ever met,’ and he said ‘it may be the first time we’ve ever met but I hear your name about 50 times every day.’”

Of course, this isn’t just the agency he covers on his blog—it’s the agency that regulates the business of his clients. Do you think there’s value in demonstrating to your clients that not only are they looking to you for analysis on government regulations, but so are the government regulators themselves? I would think so.

Naturally, it’s one thing to tell your clients the regulators are looking to you for expertise, it’s another for the regulators to do it themselves—and it isn’t limited to these massive firms.

Take this example from the medium-sized communications law firm Fletcher Heald & Hildreth and their CommLawBlog, emphasis added.

While at a recent conference, Kevin Goldberg said he introduced himself to an FCC commissioner as CommLawBlog’s Swami. Even though they never met before, the commissioner knew of Goldberg on that alone.

“He could have been the nicest guy in the world and played it off really well,” said Goldberg. “We’re reaching a pretty high level in terms of readership at the agency that we’re trying to serve.”

Harry Cole added, “We’re reasonably confident that that particular commissioner knows us because he referenced one of our posts in a speech he gave a year or two ago. We know that another FCC commissioner reads because he linked to one of our pieces in a blog that he posted on the FCC website.”

This isn’t rare either. Just the other day, I saw that Fox Rothschild partner Elizabeth Litten had a post of hers on the firm’s HIPAA, HITECH & HIT blog cited in a statement from an FTC commissioner.

As mentioned, this type of high-level influence isn’t limited to large law firms. We wrote about plaintiff’s lawyer Bill Marler and his impact on the food industry here earlier this week.

Lawyers blog for a lot of different reasons, and in a lot of different ways. Some use keyword tracking tools to draw in search traffic. Some are focused on making sure, above all, the content shows up on the law firm website just the way they want it.

But some lawyers blog because they want to put a dent in the universe—or, at the very least, the industry in which they operate.

With blogging, and technology tools in general, it’s easy to become distracted by any number of things.

But when those distractions arise, consider what type of lawyer you want to be—and what you want to accomplish.

If it were me, I know I’d want to be the lawyer who can tell his clients, “Hey, look the people who are enforcing the country’s laws at the highest level—even they listen to what I have to say.”

Photo Credit: Garyisajoke

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