Photo of Kevin O'Keefe

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of Seattle-based LexBlog, a worldwide network of legal bloggers and the digital publishing solution of choice for legal professionals and organizations, everywhere.

What a hashtag coming yesterday from law blog pioneer, legal tech veteran and now law professor, Dennis Kennedy.

Kennedy used the hashtag in a blog post as his solution to a growing problem legal professionals face when writing for third party publishers – #blogfirst.

I’ve been rethinking my approach to publishing articles in publications. To my horror, I’ve seen links to hundreds of my old articles take people to “file not found” or other 404 pages. Other articles are now behind subscription or pay walls, or can be read only as you navigate through ad mazes.

That was never what I wanted. I don’t think any author would ever want that. I want as many readers as possible.

Then we have people finding a reference, and previous working link, to one of the articles you did for a third party publication in another article, presentation materials or a blog post. They coming knocking.

At best, in most cases I at least have my last draft that I submitted for publication still in my archive. The good news is that most of my articles don’t need much editing. The bad news is that these drafts are all I have to send people, including a recent potential client, as a copy of an article they can’t find instead of the working link I (and they) expected. I’m the one who looks like I don’t know what I’m doing when I send people to a dead link to my own article.

Kennedy is not alone. Bloomberg Law has deleted articles from in-house counsel, AmLaw, in a deal with LexisNewxis, has placed behind a paywall previously open access contributions from leaders in the law, and the ABA, by re-doing their website, has made content virtually disappear.

Website developers apparently look at getting a new website up with some content and looking good as the end goal. Neither the website developer nor the organization or company for whom the website was being done knew what they were doing when it came to digital publishing or cared a lick about it.

Kennedy’s new approach is to #blogfirst

For new articles that I write not done as a favor for an editor or under contract, I will publish first as a blog post. I call this #blogfirst. The post will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). People can use the post as they wish, only with attribution and only for non-commercial purposes as defined under the license. If someone wants to publish the post or a portion of it in their publication, they can contact me to discuss and we can reach mutually-agreeable terms.

Like me, Kennedy will post a somewhat edited, usually shorter, version of his blog post on LinkedIn. I post the same edited version of my post on Facebook. 

I’m with Kennedy that this a workable approach for publishers. And if it causes some extra steps or difficulties for you as a publisher?

…[T]he blame for that lies solely on your publisher colleagues, who seem to have forgotten that it is authors that provide the content that brings the audience that brings the dollars, and that authors deserve better treatment of their published articles than I’m currently seeing and experiencing.

Kennedy’s touching on a bigger deal than many lawyers, law firms, web developers and marketing professionals appreciate. 

The law is a breathing entity. Advances are made through dialogue, citations and discussion. 25 years ago libraries were filled with books preserving hundreds of years of legal dialogue and citations.

Imagine what would have happened if we took the the numbers off the spines of half of the books. Or randomly picked out volumes and cut out 50 pages with a scissors. 

That’s exactly what is happening here with people not appreciating that law blogs are the American Law Review, journals and articles of today.

I look forward to talking more with Kennedy about #blogfirst and asking for his input as LexBlog charts a path to some method of permanent archiving and citation for law blogs. 

Legal blogging is often referred to as content marketing. 

But watching the depth and breath of the law blog posts on our network, I continue to see legal blogging as something so much more important.

Not only has legal blogging democratized legal publishing, but legal blogging represents a body of secondary law. 

I was speaking to a communications and outreach person with a major law school today regarding a project or two. Our discussion got into the significant role that legal bloggers play in our society.

The law exists not only in codes and regs, but in our interpretation of that primary law. The law is alive and continues to evolve and be shaped by this ongoing interpretation.

This interpretation of the law coming from those in the law, ranging from the judiciary’s deciding cases to legal professionals developing secondary law through their writings. 

Traditionally, secondary law – legal insight and commentary – came from the “learned lawyers” who had access to publishers. It was only a few practicing lawyers and legal academics who wrote for journals, reviews, and books. The amount published was minimal, especially as it came to niches in the law.

Legal blogs democratized such publishing, it’s open access now. All legal professionals, via blogs, have access to digital publishing and the ability to create secondary law or, at a minimum, insight and commentary on the law.

Not only did the numbers publishing increase, but the depth and breath of the publishing increased.

Lawyers practicing in niches by area of law and by jurisdiction for the first time shared what was between their ears. Reporting and commentary that has gone on to shape the law.  

I read an article today about Mosul blogger and citizen journalist, Omar Mohammed. Wanting to counter ISIS portrayal of Mosul as a city of death, Mohammed began to publish the ‘Mosul Eye’ to cover the city’s recovery, history, culture, women, health, and education. 

“I care a lot about the future of Mosul,” Mohammed told a reporter for the Deccan Herald. “I believe we are in the movement and have a long way to go. Only when you believe in your individuality, is when your nation can actually succeed.”

The power of a passionate and individual citizen journalist. Something never possible before blogs. Check out Mohammed‘s blog, it’s impressive. 

Blogging lawyers certainly don’t risk their life as Mohammed does in Mosul, but their belief in their individuality as a citizen journalist and commentator on the law is so important to the evolution of law in this country and the public’s understanding of the law.

Not to worry about the law blogs of such citizen journalists and legal commentators working as a marketing tool.

Published lawyers, the lawyers with a name, never worried about getting work back in the the day of limited access to publishers.  It’s the same for the citizen journalists and legal commentators of today – the law bloggers.   

I have been asked by law school professors, placement officers and students for best practices on blogging.

Here’s 17 tips that I believe will make for a more successful law student blog. Expect the number to change as I think of things I missed.

  1. Establish a goal you want to accomplish through blogging. Saying I blogged is not the accomplishment of a goal. Rather than legal writing, set a goal of understanding how to network through the Internet by the time you graduate from law school. Commit to building a name for yourself and building professional relationships through blogging. Such goals land you internships, clerkships and a job doing what you want to do for whom you want to work for upon graduation.
  2. Focus on a niche you can get passsionate about. Blogging on a niche will not limit you from pursuing long term goals later on. Blogging on general legal issues or on a blog focused on too broad of a niche will not work. You’ll not be able to identify influencers in a niche. You’ll not get your blog posts cited or shared. You’ll not build a name nor relationships and you’ll find it difficult or impossible to learn how to network through the Internet.
  3. Find and follow the influencers and thought leaders in your niche and follow what they are writing or blogging about – blogging lawyers, reporters, association leaders, law professors, or even fellow law students, no matter where any of them are located. 
  4. Subscribe to their blogs and publications, ideally via a news aggregator (Feedly is a free, easy to use and the most widely used by legal professionals). A news aggregator will save you a lot of time. Twitter can also be used to follow news and commentary in your niche by following the influencers.
  5. Understand what true blogging is. Summaries of case law, legal developments and legal news on a niche may work for some practicing lawyers, but a law student, and most lawyers, would be advised to look at blogging as a conversation. Listening is more important than writing.
  6. “Listen” to what the influencers are writing and engage them in your blog posts by referencing what they are “saying,” perhaps by citing a block quote and offer your take, why you shared what they wrote or what you learned from their writing.
  7. Let the parties you cite know that you did so. You may do so via an email or via sharing your post on Twitter giving a hat tip (h/t) to the Twitter handle of the party cited. This is the engagement – and it’s also how you draw attention to you and your blogging.
  8. Publish your own individual blog. Blogs with groups of law students or blogs done as part of a class will limit you from learning how to blog, from understanding how to network through the Internet, limit you from building a name and limit you from building relationships.  A law student group blog will be less followed and less cited.
  9. Title the blog, itself, just as you would title any publication, indicating that the blog is published by you. Your blog is every bit a publication. Blogging has democratized publishing, be part of it. 
  10. Get a domain that you own. This way you control your publishing and your body of work. Influence as a legal professional is measured, in part, through their writings – and influence from digital writings is measured by the age of one’s domain and the citations and shares of one’s writing.
  11. Publish on WordPress. WordPress is by far and away the leading content management solution on the web, running 70% of sites with a content management system. Using a managed WordPress host, whether or LexBlog (free turnkey blog solution for law students), will solve a lot of headaches.  
  12. Blog posts are best written in a conversational tone, as opposed to in the style of a legal brief. Blog as you talk.
  13. Blog posts need not be long. 400 to 500 words can be sufficient, though be guided by what you “need to say” to make your one point, more than a particular length. A post of about 1,000 words may be required in some cases, but be cognisant of people reading and sharing on mobile devices.  
  14. Blogging as a law student need not take a lot of time. A blog post every other week would result in over 20 posts in a year and 40 to 50 posts in two years of law school. A post should take two hours or less. Many lawyers take less than an hour to publish a blog post.
  15. Blogging is learned only through trial and error. In law school we learn to do things as perfect as possible – and not to act until we’re ready to be perfect. That won’t work in learning to blog. Subscribe to other blogs, see how they blog, observe the style of the bloggers and reporters you follow, and get started knowing you will blog bad, but for only so long. You will feel uneasy when you start blogging, every legal profession does.
  16. Share your blog posts (or portions of them) on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), assuming you use the medium, not for the purpose of dissemination, but for engaging people with a relevant interest. Social algorithms lead to engagement, help you build a name and help you nurture relationships.
  17. Legal ethics do not prevent you from effective blogging nor the effective use of social media. 

I hope this is of help and know that as a law school, law professor or law student, we at LexBlog are here to help you.

I’m little slow sharing an email I received from LexBlog’s Associate Editor, Melissa Lin, a couple weeks ago.

Gave me goosebumps to feel her excitement and passion and to know we were on our way to showcasing blogs and bloggers, worldwide. I thought it a perfect way to share with you how the LexBlog network is growing.  


As I announced at our company goals meeting last week, the publishing team will add 1000 member blogs to the LexBlog network by the end of 2019. 

We have added 76 feeds since starting the project and 16 of those were from this week alone! I’m hoping to keep this momentum going and want to remind everyone that if there’s a blog we’re missing, to please let me or others on publishing team know. 

Here are all the blogs we added this week:

A few of my favorites: 

The Asylumist: Published by Immigration Attorney, Jason Dzubow, an awesome blog related to all things related to political asylum in the U.S. The author gets hundreds of comments from people seeking advice on their asylum applications and he responds to nearly all of them. Written by a true advocate for refugees and asylum seekers.

Sentencing Law and Policy: Published by Ohio’s State University Law School Professor, Douglas Berman, this is the first blog to be cited the U.S. Supreme Court.6 

Religion Clause: University of Toledo Law Professor Howard Friedman, covers cases about religious discrimination in the workplace, religious abuse, and clarification on government restrictions on religion.


Some of the blogs are better than others, and some of their posts are more likely to be featured on page one, channels and social media, but none the less, the network, and the pool to draw on, is growing. 

When Bob Ambrogi, LexBlog’s Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, shared his vision a year ago that LexBlog was going to be be the largest and most comprehensive legal news and commentary publication in the world, I thought he might be off his rocker.

No longer. By any measure, whether it be the number of legal publications, the number of columnists/bloggers or web traffic, LexBlog is on its way to becoming the largest and most comprehensive legal news and commentary site.

LexBlog’s evolving into a legal publisher has caused some confusion. So it’s clear, we continue to provide the most professional, the most complete and most cost effective publishing solutions to the legal community.

LexBlog’s professional turnkey blog solution, which brought blogging to the legal profession fifteen years ago, remains the most popular blog platform in legal. Over 18,000 legal bloggers call the LexBlog platform home.

But who we are is you. We’ll celebrate great bloggers, great publishers, great blogs and great publications. 

So upfront at LexBlog, you’ll witness this celebration in the form of an improving legal news and commentary site comprised of legal bloggers, world-wide.

I recently heard of law firms posting job opportunities at law school placement offices for law students to pen blog posts for their law firm.

As with legal marketing companies selling ghostwritten blog posts to law firms, the law student would presumably get paid per post, with the firm running the posts in a lawyer’s name.

The problem with such a scenario is that it’s misleading. And the type of law blogs being run like this fall within the definition of advertising in virtually every states legal ethics rules. Advertising rules that proscribe saying or doing anything that’s misleading in your advertising. 

What’s misleading? That you as a lawyer or law firm are holding out that you wrote the blog post. 

Ask anyone who they think wrote a blog post listing the author blogger when it’s posted on the New York Times, Harvard Business Review or ESPN? They’ll look at you kind of strange wondering why you’re asking and say the person in the byline, of course.

For whatever reason, lawyers who should be leaders when it comes to ethical behavior, think they get a pass when being ethical would take time.

“For it’s money I have, and time I don’t, so I go to marketing folks selling me stuff who tell me its cool, everyone is doing so.”

Sure, there will be marketing agencies, ghost blog writers and some lawyers responding that ghostwritten blogs are okay or that they are like having someone help with a brief.

They’re not. This has been argued out more than once, and lawyers, including ethics leaders, have made clear that holding out something as yours, in the case of a blog post, without a full disclosure, is unethical. I shared a some of their views years back.

The problem for law students comes when applying for admission to the bar. Applicants are reviewed for fitness, character, lack of candor, criminal behavior, mental health, substance abuse and fiscal responsibility, among other things. 

I’d hazard a guess participating in legally unethical conduct in conjunction with a law firm in a job which my law school’s placement office helped me get – and knew what I’d be doing, would cause problems all around. 

The law firm (and its lawyer) and the law school may get in some trouble and pick up some bad press, but they’d move on. The law student may not get a license to practice law – or have their license delayed a few years.

Law students need to pause before taking the money for this job. Starbucks may not be as glamorous, but you can still get a license afterwards,

Law schools, who are often wrongfully telling their students that blogging and social media can get you in trouble, ought to educate themselves and not place their students in jobs requiring unethical conduct. 

A year ago this week, I blogged that legal tech companies and their founders and executives didn’t understand how to use technology and the Internet to market and sell.

Unfortunately, nothing much has changed for legal tech companies marketing at this week’s Legalweek/Legaltech in New York City. Applies equally to most of the PR and marketing agencies they use to engage reporters, bloggers and potential customers attending the show.

Sure, there are exceptions, such as Ed Walters, the CEO of Fastcase, but they are few and far between. Ed can do more from his office in D.C. to market and engage customers, prospective customers, partners and influencers of those three (reporters, bloggers, leading media influencers) at Legalweek than CEO’s and marketers can do while being there.  

Twenty years ago,  Doc Searls and Dave Weinberger wrote in the widely read business book, Cluetrain Manifesto, that with the advent of the Internet markets are conversations.

On the Internet, markets are getting more connected and more powerfully vocal every day. These markets want to talk, just as they did for the thousands of years that passed before market became a verb with us as its object.

The Internet is a place. We buy books and tickets on the Web. Not over, through, or beside it. To call it a “platform” belies its hospitality. What happens on the Net is more than commerce, more than content, more than push and pull and clicks and traffic and e-anything. The Net is a real place where people can go to learn, to talk to each other, and to do business together. It is a bazaar where customers look for wares, vendors spread goods for display, and people gather around topics that interest them. It is a conversation. At last and again.

Twenty years, two decades have passed since the advent of conversations and networking through the Internet.  With the marketing technology software that companies and agencies are using today, we’re arguably worse off as a legal industry than we were twenty years ago when it comes to the Internet for marketing. 

If you want to hear the sound of real Internet marketing, listen to the conversations coming from inside, outside, over, and above even the hardest-selling overtures from companies that still think marketing means lobbing messages into crowds. 

Rather than hiring marketers and PR companies to email leading press, including bloggers, hoping that they’ll stop by your booth/demos or give you coverage, engage these folks in a real and authentic way through the Internet.

Build trust. Without trust, no one can hear your message.

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – take your pick – by company leaders, personally, is not an option, it’s necessary to enter the conversation. Social media is not to be pushed aside by a legal tech CEO letting marketing and the social media coordinator do the work. 

Seven years after Cluetrain, Searls blogged some salient points about marketing as a conversation. 

  • The purpose of conversation is to create and improve understanding, not for one party to “deliver messages” to the other. That would be rude.
  • There is no “audience” in a conversation. If we must label others in conversation, let’s call them partners.
  • People in productive conversation don’t repeat what they’re saying over and over. They learn from each other and move topics forward.
  • Conversations are about talking, not announcing. They’re about listening, not surveying. They’re about paying attention, not getting attention. They’re about talking, not announcing.
  • Conversation is live. It’s constantly moving and changing, flowing where the interests and ideas of the participants take it. Even when conversations take the form of email, what makes them live is current interest on both sides.

Searls added that companies engage in marketing as a conversation in a manner that is:

  • Real. Conversational marketing is carried out by human beings, writing and speaking in their own voices, for themselvesnot just for their employers.
  • Constant. Conversational marketing’s heartbeat is the human one, not some media schedule. Brands need to work incessantly to be understood within the context of the market conversation and to earn and keep the respect of their conversational partners.
  • Genuinely interested. Intellectual engagement can’t be faked at least for long. Current interest is what keeps conversations going, and its the key to sustained brand presence.
  • Personal. No individual outsources their conversation or their education. This is no less true of brands than of people. Because brands today are people. Smart brands reward individual employees for engaging in market converstions.

Other than Jack Newton, CEO of Clio, and Ed Walters, I am not sure that any CEO’s with companies at Legalweek have engaged me personally in a conversation through the Internet.

Between them, these guys are regular users of Twitter and Facebook so what their companies are doing and/or launching at Legalweek is just part of their ongoing conversation with us. Any announcements they share of new products feel like they’re just sharing something we would want to know – we know them and we trust them.

No coincidence that their two companies are two of the fastest growing and most successful in the legal tech industry. 

Rather than press releases, announcements and emails to bloggers/reporters you don’t know, take a crack at being genuine. Learn how to converse online. After all, marketing is a conversation. 

Jason Fried, the co-founder and CEO of Basecamp and widely respected business commenter, blogged this on Friday.


That’s it, and in all caps.

This sounds earily similar to the the year 2000 when the rug was pulled out from under Internet companies, including many in the legal industry, chasing page views and market share, as opposed to revenue and profits, as a measure of valuation.

The corrections in valuation in 2000 weren’t 30 or 60 percent. Valuations of venture backed Internet companies dropped 90 to 100 percent. Venture capitalists which had committed to put in millions of dollars in traunches of money over time wouldn’t put in another dime – unless it was to bridge a sale. 

Harvard Business School senior lecturer Shikhar Ghosh found that as many as 75 percent of venture-backed companies never return cash to investors, with 30 to 40 percent of those liquidating assets where investors lose all of their money. 

The legal tech industry has seen a huge increase in venture capital investment. One billion dollars was invested last year and from the looks of it, we’re on pace to do it again. 

Venture capitalists are betting on growing valuation quickly, no matter the losses, and liquidating their investment by selling the company to another company or private equity firm. Very,  very few will go public.

That’s a good bet in some cases based on the inefficiencies in the delivery of legal services and the ability for technology and innovation to reinvent the delivery of legal services and the processes behind this delivery.

But the problem for most venture-backed legal tech companies is that they are going to fail. The millions of dollars in venture capital investment announced in press releases won’t be delivered by venture capitalists with a decline in the economy, continuing losses or a concern that the company will not dominate their market. 

Some will then sell, some will sell at a fire sale and some will go out of businesses. Some may continue on like a dead man walking trying to stay alive to catch lightening in a bottle at a later date. 

Losing money as a startup or emerging growth company is common, and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s the model for venture-backed companies which can sustain losses longer than self funded companies. 

The problem comes when the funding stops – for the company, its employees and its customers – if revenues do not exceed expenses. 

Assuming legal tech venture-backed companies are not exempt from history, we could unfortunately see the majority of them fail. 

Yesterday brought word of mass layoffs at Buzzfeed and HuffPost. Today brought news that Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, is slashing jobs across the country. 

Investors are likely looking to reign in losses at the first two and it’s possible Gannett is looking to get more profitable asap now that a hedge fund known to be the death of journalism for its previous acquisitions is looking to acquire them.

No matter how you slice it though, there will be more a thousand more unemployed journalists by the end of the week. And you can add them to the thousands of journalists who have already lost their jobs.

Some are calling this the realization that the business of digital content doesn’t work. I don’t buy it, people want quality journalism. As a society we require it. 

Buzzfeed and HuffPost are getting slapped a bit by relying on SEO too much.  Packing keywords in the story and in title tags in an effort to game Google and rank high in search diminishes the content and gets journalists focused on the wrong thing. And it always catch up with you.

Good journalism, like good legal blogging, gets ranked without focusing on SEO. 

Rather than rely on venture capitalists and other investors looking to invent the future of journalism, why not people who already have a revenue model for their journalism – lawyers included.

There’s no debating that law blogs are providing some of the best insight and commentary on the law. Some law blogs provide news and information on things never covered before. 

It’s never been easier for lawyers to start a nich focused blog and draw a following of readers. If there’s a better way of growing influence, a name and relationships for business development by a lawyer than a good blog, I haven’t seen it. 

Unlike traditional joiurnalists, lawyers don’t need to get paid for their reporting (blogging). They get paid as a result of their blogging – some lawyers, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and some lawyers, millions of dollars a year from a name and relationships built through blogging. 

We’re not talking content marketing, SEO magnet blogs or, worse yet, ghostwriters putting up content in someone else’s name, we’re talking real and authentic information and insight from a practicing lawyer.

Beyond blogging, lawyers can use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to report and comment on legal developments.

I don’t have to look for immigration news and insight, I get it from immigration Attorney Greg Siskind on Facebook – often on high profile cases he’s involved in. Greg’s been providing the world immigration news via the net for almost twenty-five years.

Like and Google, with Newspack, empowering traditional news reporting companies, LexBlog will do what it can to empower and support law bloggers – they represent the present and future of legal news and commentary.

We’re creating The LexBlog Standard theme (looks just like this blog) for lawyers looking to get up and going on their own blog on their own domain fully supported by LexBlog for $49 a month with no initial fee. 

We’re going to start working with state and metro bar associations to grow the number of law bloggers and to use syndication portals as a way to showcase lawyers blogging and to get the legal news and commentary where it’s most needed. 

And our publishing team is working diligently to get every credible legal blog in LexBlog, as the leading legal news and commentary publication. 

Journalism may not be viewed by most folks as “our business” as lawyers. But it is.

No one is better equipped to report and comment on legal news and developments than a lawyer practicing in a relevant niche. Sure, a lawyer is not going to quit their day job to report, but we’re talking niches (think less news). A post a week is a lot.

A win win for society and lawyers here. Time for a few lawyers to care and step up.

h/t Jared Sulzdorf announced last week its partnership with Google on the launch of Newspack by, a new publishing solution for small and medium sized news organizations. 

With many local news organizations struggling to find sustainable models for journalism, we’re seeing a need for an inexpensive platform that provides the technology and support that lets news organizations build their businesses and focus on what they do best — providing critical reporting for their communities. Our hope with Newspack is to give them a platform where they can continue to focus on what they do best, while we focus on providing world-class technology and support across their editorial and business operations.

As shared, a consortium of organizations are backing the project, with contributing the development efforts.

Google, through the Google News Initiative, is taking the lead in backing the project and has committed $1.2 million. Other funders include The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which is contributing $400,000; ConsenSys, the venture studio backing Civil Media, which is contributing $350,000; and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is contributing $250,000. An additional $200,000 from a fifth source is expected to be contributed toward the project later this month.

When I first saw the news I wondered how Newspack could impact and/or serve LexBlog and law firms who are blogging. Good law bloggers are the equal of journalists, often doing a far superior job of reporting than the reporters with news organizations.

But looking at how is positioning Newspack for news organizations with a history of editorial and financial success in their markets, Newspack appears to be for publishers focused on traditional news organization revenue – ads and subscriptions. 

Google which contributed over a million dollars knows one thing as a good as anyone – advertising and how to sell advertising.

On the publishing platform side, there’s no better platform, long term, for news organizations than WordPress. WordPress already powers 70% of all sites with a content management solution (CMS). hosts some of the most trusted names in journalism — from and CNN to FiveThirtyEight and Quartz, as well as individual sites for reporters. 

News organizations no question need the help on their opex (operating expenditures) and revenue.

Getting on a publishing platform that’s better than the one they are using without heavy tech support expense and that’s hosted elsewhere by professionals can save a lot of money. Built in subscription and advertising tools can decrease expense and potentially increase revenues. 

And who knows, maybe Google looks to strengthen the play on Google News of news organizations on Newspack.

No telling the uptake that Newspack will have, but WordPress and Google are formidable players with an interest in supporting news organizations and journalism.

For law firms, Newspack is not the right fit – unless you are looking to become a news organization generating revenues other than through the delivery of legal services. 

The news that one of the most widely read blogs in the design, development, and digital publishing business, if not the net as a whole, is leaving Medium as its publishing platform should serve as a wakeup call to lawyers and law firms that blogging on Medium may not be in their best interests.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Creator of Ruby on Rails, Founder & CTO at Basecamp, shared the news last week that Basecamp’s twenty year old blog, Signal v Noise, is leaving Medium for WordPress.

Medium made good sense for Basecamp when they first moved there.

Three years ago we embraced an exciting new publishing platform called Medium. It felt like a new start for a writing community, and we benefited immensely from the boost in reach and readership those early days brought. But alas it was not to last.

When we moved over, Medium was all about attracting big blogs and other publishers. This was going to be a new space for a new time where publishers could find a home. And it was. For a while.

That’s changed. 

These days Medium is focused on their membership offering, though. Trying to aggregate writing from many sources and sell a broad subscription on top of that. And it’s a neat model, and it’s wonderful to see Medium try something different. But it’s not for us, and it’s not for Signal v Noise.

I blogged eighteen months ago that blog publishers were leaving Medium for WordPress in growing numbers. The reason being that Medium’s business model was not in alignment with that of most bloggers.

What began with a focus on the individual publisher,  after deep financial losses, Medium turned to a tip jar and selling subscriptions to premier content. Rather than a focus on the individual publisher and the platform used by them, development monies were being focused elsewhere – especially with the company layoffs.

What’s interesting is that Basecamp views the purpose of its blogging much the way lawyers and law firms do – writing is not the end game.

Writing for us is not a business, in any direct sense of the word. We write because we have something to say, not to make money off page views, advertisements, or subscriptions. If some readers end up signing up for Basecamp, that’s great. But if they just like to read and not buy, that’s also great.

Publishing platform business models focused on advertising, subscription revenues and building the domain influence of the publishing platform don’t jive with a publisher building their own name and domain influence.

And like good lawyers, Basecamp sees the need for writing beyond that which social media offers – the reason that blogging is on the rise. 

…[W]e’ve grown ever more aware of the problems with centralizing the internet. Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.

I have all the respect in the world for Ev Williams, the founder of Medium, a co-founder of Twitter and a co-founder of Blogger. He’s one of the visionaries in publishing and media that I’ve followed for years. 

Rightfully being paranoid as an entrepreneur and founder, I wondered how Medium would effect LexBlog in our role as a managed WordPress platform for legal publishing. 

But it turns out Medium poses a lot of risks for lawyers and law firms – as opposed to using WordPress.

Beyond not having the control of your content and using a platform that is not focused on you, bigger than ever for lawyers is owning a their own domain for the life of their blogging career. 

Medium does not enable a lawyer to use their own domain any longer. When a lawyer’s reputation and influence is measured objectively by citations and shares, you never want to lose those links to your domain.

As enticing as Medium may look as a free or low cost platform and giving you some exposure to an unknown audience, Medium is probably not the right fit for lawyers looking to build a reputation and influence through blogging.