Could individual lawyer blogs be more effective than group law blogs?

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Though many, if not most, law blogs are published by a group of lawyers at a law firm, blogs published by an individual lawyer may work better for developing business.

When I started blogging back in the stone age I thought of blogs as a conversation. One blogger expressing their thoughts and commentary, often referencing what another blogger posted, with other bloggers responding on their blog.

Blogs were very personality driven. That didn’t necessarily mean law bloggers were blogging about personal items or being ultra opinionated, it just meant the bloggers had a unique voice, tone or sense of humor that resonated with followers.

When law blogs started to take off about a decade ago, large law firms, with lawyers segmented by practice or industry groups, gravitated to group blogs for any number of reasons.

  • Budgets for marketing often followed groups versus individual lawyers.
  • Egos. In some cases, every lawyer in a practice group had to be listed as an author in the “About” section of the blog.
  • Law firms can be “firm brand” centric versus “individual brands.” One major firm drove a rainmaking lawyer out because he was developing too big of a brand with his individual blog being followed by general counsel and peer law firms.
  • Content. Law firms fear that an individual lawyer will not post often enough.
  • Rather than strategically focused on niches, law firms launched practice group blogs.

But pursuant to the latest GC Excellence Report, the reputation of the individual lawyer is the single most important factor for general counsel when deciding which law firm to use, ranking ahead of the firm’s reputation and well ahead of the firm’s brand.

A blogging lawyer can certainly enhance their reputation by publishing on a group blog, but it’s not as easy.

No question there are some great practice group and topic specific group law blogs, but when I go to rattle off the names of lawyers who have knocked it out of the park from a business development standpoint from blogging I tend to hit on those who did so with their own blogs.

Allison Rowe in equine law, Jeff Nowak on FMLA matters, Dan Schwartz on Connecticut employment law, Staci Riordan in fashion law, Peter Mahler on business dissolution and David Donoghue on IP litigation. These lawyers achieved outstanding reputations through blogging and generated significant business as a result.

Why might individual law blogs be more successful for business development?

  • Conversational style and tone. Not every individual law blog is written in a conversational style (as one would talk), buy more are. Readers are also apt to develop a comfort with the blogger’s tone.
  • Social media is critical for bloggers. Not just for distribution, but in further developing trust, relationships and a name. Sharing posts from your own blog tends to be more social and more personable in nature and draws more engagement.
  • Bloggers tend to get cited as much, if not more than, blogs. It tends to be how we cite things in the law, ie “per Professor XYX writing on…”
  • Bloggers tend to be remembered, by name, more than blogs. I’d guess that most of the readers of this blog or Robert Ambrogi’s blog, both fourteen years old, would not remember the names of our blogs if asked – if asked, they say it’s Kevin O’Keefe’s or Bob Ambrogi’s blog.
  • Individual bloggers getting a lot of invitations to speak. Speaking builds names and relationships.
  • The business of the law is all about relationships. It’s harder to build relationships when you head out as a publication, versus an an individual blogging lawyer.
  • Bloggers need attagirl’s and attaboy’s to keep going. The love you receive as an individual blogger tends to be greater.
  • People, including general counsel, hire lawyers, not law firms. Same goes with who people tend to follow, trust and enjoy.

Sure, there are any number of ways to make a group law blogs work for business development. A good number of firms have done so.

There’s just a number of reasons individual law blogs may be more successful — especially so in large firms, where general counsel value the reputation of individual lawyers above the firm’s brand and reputation.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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