By Kevin O'Keefe

German Magazine Interview About Legal Blogs and Open Law

I was interviewed this week about blogging and open law by a German business publication.

The reporter was doing a story on open law, as opposed to the traditional proprietary publishing model where access is limited to subscribers.

Finding my blog and commentary on social media, she found my views on the importance of open law to be interesting and asked me a few questions.

I thought I’d share the Q & A with you.

1. Why is it so important for society that lawyers share their knowledge on the internet?

First, Lawyers share on legal blogs deep insight on niche areas of the law that they have developed through “hands-on” experience.

Traditional proprietary legal publishing, in general, tends to be published and edited by those without such niche expertise developed through practical experience. And certainly less frequently and publishing access limited to a select few.

Second, with the Internet and legal blogs, legal professionals have been handed, in effect, a printing press. Legal publishing has been democratized.

This has enabled lawyers to publish on niches never published on before. Niches on which which legal traditional publishers are not publishing. Such niche information, openly shared and widely accessible, is of tremendous benefit to the public.

Three, lawyers connect with people in a real and authenticate way through open publishing, or blogging.

People have better access to legal information, appreciate what a lawyer may do to help them and are more informed when it comes time to selecting a lawyer. Without trust in lawyers, people’s legal rights are eroded.

2. Why doesn’t the state ensure that all citizens are provided with sufficient legal knowledge? Wouldn’t that be its task?

The state often relies on traditional legal publishers to assemble, publish and distribute the law.

The state and its citizens then have to pay to gain access to the law, crazy as that may sound.

With the Internet, the state should publish and make the law, in all forms, open and available to the public. Lawyers can supplement this law with insight and commentary, via blogging.

3. What are the biggest difficulties that blogging lawyers encounter? (resistance from the courts, lack of time…) And how can they be counteracted?

The biggest difficulty blogging lawyers encounter are often themselves and the marketing professionals they hire.

Neither understand what legal blogging means and when blogging fails for them they quite blogging.

They see blogging not as sharing insight and commentary on a niche area of the law, but as keywords generating SEO (search engine optimization) to draw traffic to a law firm website.

Many lawyers use marketing companies to write their blog content. Crazy, but true.

The legal bloggers who understand that blogging means engaging in the discussion (that which is being written on a niche) and then offering insight and commentary on this discussion to build relationships and a reputation succeed in both growing business and helping the public with legal information. 

The result is a win/win for the public – more legal information – and lawyers – more business.

The other challenge is law schools whose professors and staff often lack an understanding of legal blogging.

Legal blogs tend to be viewed as being less than the academic writing in law reviews and law journals.

In other cases, professors and staff don’t understand how legal blogging can help law grads get a job in an area of the law for which students have a passion.

Worse still, some at law schools see legal blogging as potentially dangerous for students. Their point being they will write on non-legal unprofessional topics. Totally unfounded.

Law students, who would benefit from blogging while in law school and upon graduation, then do not get exposed to legal blogging while in law school and do not perceive blogging as important on graduation. 

Time is, of course, a challenge for those who will not make the time to help themselves and others. Fortunately, many lawyers do. 

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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