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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

With LexBlog gradually moving to a distributed workforce, I am taking a page out of Matt Mullenweg’s playbook – that being that as a CEO I should be traveling out to see my team where they live and work. Headed to Boston tonight.

I’ll be seeing Scott Fennell, our lead developer, and a highly respected WordPress developer among its open source community, nation-wide, who lives in Portland, Maine. Scott’s being nice enough to take the train down to Boston to accommodate me with having a few other meetings in the city. Next time, I go to Portland.

I’ll also be meeting our Robert Ambrogi, the dean of legal tech journalism, who needs no introduction. Bob, who hails from Rockport, Mass, the next cape up from Cape Cod, is a taking brief train or car ride down.

Last week, I met up with Andy Walters, our senior project manager, in his home, Austin. Worked out great as I enjoyed Andy contributing to a meeting with one of our state bar association partners.

Meeting in a coffee shop in West Hollywood about four years, Matt Mullenweg asked me if I thought the best team members for LexBlog were located within forty miles of Seattle. I kind of blew him off, but he was serious.

Matt is the co-founder of WordPress and the CEO of Automattic, a multi-billion dollar company and the operator of the largest managed WordPress platform (WordPress.com) in the world.

With over 1,000 employees, Automattic has neither a headquarters nor offices. The entire team is distributed.

Five years ago, or so, Matt moved to San Francisco from his home in Houston and opened offices near downtown. But no one really used the offices, do Matt closed the offices and moved back to Houston – though with Automattic team members and WordPress open source developers all over the world, Matt is on the road a lot.

Want to learn more about a distributed workforce, Automattic style, pick up the book, ‘Year Without Pants,’ by Scott Berkum. Berkum chronicles the behind-the-scenes look at the company behind WordPress.com and its unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success – 50 million websites, or close to thirty percent of the entire web.

More on LexBlog’s distributed later. Know for now that we are benefiting.

Beyond meeting up with Scott and Bob, I am going to meet some associations as to how they, their member lawyers and the public not finding access to legal services can benefit from our Syndication Portal product.

As popular as the ‘Portals’ are (two more state bar associations signed on as partners this week), we’re not ‘selling’ the portals, we’d be remiss if we didn’t reach out to bar associations to share with them how they can benefit – financially even – from a ‘Portal.’

Back Thursday night or Friday morning.

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Bar association partners. Has a nice ring to it, as it relates to bars being partners of LexBlog, or maybe better put, LexBlog being a parters of bar associations.

Sure, we’ve had member benefit programs with bar associations. Bar members receive a discount off LexBlog services. Sometimes bar associations benefit financially as well.

But these programs have always felt a little hollow. Nothing was being done to really benefit the bar, its members, and the public – consumers and small business people, that we all serve. Just a financial exchange that required LexBlog to go out and market and sell to the bar’s members. In a relationship based sales business like LexBlog’s, that type of sales is tough sledding.

I’ve admired Fastcase’s bar association partnership program. Bars and Fastcase partnered to democratize the law – to make the law free to lawyers, as opposed to selling the law to lawyers as the large legal publishers have always done. A cost that was passed on by law firms to their clients, something further limiting access to legal services.

LexBlog is all about improving access to legal services. To bring effective access to the 85% of people – consumers, the middle class and businesses, who aren’t sure if they have a legal issue, what lawyers could do for them and how to find a caring and experienced lawyer.

Legal blogs have proven an effective way to establish an intimate relationship of trust in lawyers. Lawyers going out where people are and giving of themselves in a real and authentic fashion. Not websites trying to grab attention in the form of what is basically an advertisement – no intimate relationship of trust there.

Lexblog is establishing a Project Access to Legal to Services (name for now) with the goal being to partner with bar associations from coast to coast to provide real and immediate access to legal services to the 85%.

We’ll begin by inspiring blogging lawyers to keep blogging and take it up a notch – to help themselves, as lawyers, and to help the 85%. This will be done through our Syndication Portal product highlighting, at a state or metro level, existing bloggers and their commentary.

With three state bar associations partnering, via Portals, and another to follow shortly, we’re close to 10% of states. Small, but a positive start.

We’ll then Work with the bars to look at the larger cities in states to build out a network of lawyers covering personal plight areas of the law – about 12 areas, including family law, bankruptcy, workers compensation, real state, estate planning, employment and elder law – to make sure consumers and small business people have access to legal information from local lawyers they trust and develop an intimate relationship of trust with those lawyers.

Where there are gaps in coverage – there will be many – LexBlog will provide its professional turnkey blog solution at a discount and train these lawyers to be outstanding bloggers.

Take this approach and LexBlog, bar associations and their members are working on something bigger than themselves. Something that makes a dent. Something better and bigger than a member benefit, alone.

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