One of the beauties of blogging is having the ability to build a network of connections from all over the world without having to leave the comfort of your own city.  Toronto attorney Lisa Stam uses her blog, Employment and Human Rights in Canada, as a virtual key to access the world of labor and employment law throughout Canada and beyond.

"Being a Canadian and blogging helps eliminate national borders and helps (me) connect with people all over the place and I like that," said Stam.  "It is the neat thing about blogging–it truly is a global activity."

Stam started her blog in the fall of 2009 with the intent of simply engaging in conversation related to workplace law developments and to stay abreast on changes within employment and human rights law.  After seeing an increasing trend in the use and misuse of social media in the workplace, Stam started her blog as an opportunity to learn about cyberlaw in the workplace to better understand the issues faced by her clients.

"I was increasingly having clients asking me about their social media issues in the workplace so I thought why not jump into social media more directly in order to understand my client’s issues," Stam said.

Stam works for a large international full-service firm, which gives her access to information that eludes local-market competitors, but perhaps the biggest advantage she has is simply that she is a female in the workforce.  Having similar workplace experiences as many female gives Stam free reign to write on the many unspoken issues that resonate with females readers.

"I’m one of the only female (labor and employment) bloggers in the city, that I’m aware of, that has her own blog," said Stam.  "That gives me freedom to talk about things like my (maternity) leave and returning to work after leave and having a female voice in the labor and employment law world."

The unique perspectives on Employment and Human Rights in Canada has created a world of new and exciting career opportunities for Stam, including agency-appointed client referrals, speaking engagements and a recent interview with the prominent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation talk show Currents.

"I would have never gotten that opportunity if they had not Googled and found one of my posts," said Stam.  "It was directly a result of my blog."

Though blogging has raised Stam’s visibility in the labor and employment law industry, the seventh-year lawyer has not lost sight of the desire to learn.  Her advice to bloggers is to take advantage of opportunities to learn from those with experience who can help better you understand not only blogging, but peak areas of interest.

"You have to read more than you write and listen more than you talk, that’s critical," said Stam,  "and know that the big takeaway from blogging is that you get to learn so much from those people around you as opposed to the other way around."

Some days the best coverage on the LexBlog Network is dominated by one practice area.  Today, it’s employment law.  Keelin Curran has an interesting post on the recently passed law requiring all Seattle employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  Meanwhile, Tom Crane, Michael Schmidt, and Christopher McKinney chime in with their respective musings on employment law.

Also, be sure to check out the latest installment of LXBN TV, as David Navetta explains the finer points of the decision in the Hannaford Bros. data breach case that has been getting attention on the LexBlog Network as of late.

 

If success in legal blogging were measured by the author’s ability connect with and relate to readers, Jeff Nowak‘s FMLA Insights would be the standard.  Employing techniques that resonate with those seeking guidance, the Chicago attorney’s publication is well on its way to finding its place among the best blogs in the labor and employment law community.

"Every article I write has to have some sort of practical impact for employers," said Nowak, a partner at Franczek Radelet.  "Some kind of message they can take and apply to their own workplace to maximize their business objectives and ultimately minimize legal risk."

Insightful, colorful and engaging, FMLA Insights has helped both employers and employees better understand matters associated with the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is why the blog’s increase in popularity is no surprise.

One of the most popular features on the blog has been the ‘FMLA FAQ‘ segment where Nowak blogs about questions posed by clients.

"In the FAQ, I choose issues that my clients commonly face in their daily business and that I think would be of value to a larger group of employers," said Nowak. "It has certainly raised my profile in the labor and employment social networking community."

Nowak’s increased web presence brought about a major career opportunity, as he was recently named employment counsel for a private company in the airline industry after being introduced to a FMLA Insights reader who happens to serve as in-house counsel for that airline.

"The blog provided me instant credibly with a potential client, something that I otherwise would have never been able to obtain without the blog," said Nowak.  "It provided an opportunity to hold myself out as an expert on an area that was of value to this particular employer."

Though a major milestone for Nowak’s career, the recent appointment to employment counsel for the airline has added to Nowak’s laundry list of duties—which includes being co-chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Franczek Radelet, serving as an elected official in his local government,  and of course,  the blog.  All this begs the question of how Nowak finds time to produce such a high quality blog on a regular basis.  His secret is that he finds time to focus on blogging at the beginning or end of the day.

"The first hour of my day is business development. It’s reviewing social media, It’s staying up-to-date on issues in my profession, it’s connecting with current and potential clients and it’s also time spent on my own blog," said Nowak.  "So it’s something that I tackle either late at night or first thing in the morning before I jump into my actual legal work.  I found that it works pretty well for me."

Amidst all the duties of a lawyer with a full plate, Nowak finds time to blog, but what makes it easier for him to post with such regularity is his passion for labor and employment law.  His advice to bloggers who may lack of inspiration is to write about topics of interest, as it makes for a more enjoyable experience.

"If you want to jump into blogging, it really has to be an area that you’re passionate about because it’s a pretty significant time commitment," said Nowak.  "While you might love to do it now, you have to love the concept two or three years later because the longer you blog, the more difficult it can be to stay motived so it’s particularly important to pick an area you are interested in and passionate about and run with it."

If the oft-uttered statement "you are what you eat" applied to blogging, Washington, D.C. attorney Steven Berk would be what he writes.  As the publisher and author of The Corporate Observer, Berk sees his blog as not only his online writing portfolio, but his virtual business card.

"If someone’s looking for a whistleblower lawyer (online), 30 or 40 different people will come up and they’re sort of looking at a stack of business cards and mine is more interesting and more thoughtful so they might call me," Berk said.

With over twenty years of litigation experience under his belt in federal prosecution and with large law firms, Berk decided to start his own firm, Berk Law, in the spring of 2009 and soon after created The Corporate Observer as a means of developing his new practice.

"When I shifted over to doing more consumer and class action work, I needed a platform that allowed me to build a presence a lot quicker than in the olden days," Berk said.

Berk’s presence is becoming increasingly established through the use of his blog, as his firm has gotten many calls from new and potential clients.

"People (are) willing to hire me as their attorney based on what they may have seen on the blog, and then due diligence after that," said Berk.  "It’s sort of a digital business card, and even more than that, it’s interactive and has information.  So in that sense it’s been very successful and we are going to keep pushing that."

The success of the blog on the retail end has prompted Berk to reach out to thought leaders to promote his work and lead him to important career and networking opportunities, such as speaking engagements and media appearances.  Berk realizes that blogging is a two-way street and in order for him to gain such opportunities he must engage others and promote their work as well.

"What I’ve learned slowly is that writing a blog is only step one," said Berk.  "It’s certainly an important step, but it’s only step one.  I think you also have to take steps two and three, which are responding to people’s blogs and engaging in conversation with others to really get the big bang for your buck."

While working on engaging others in his work, Berk is employing the craft of letting his writing show readers his personality, skills, and advocacy for class action.  Berk feels that many law blogs are "mercenary" and are subject to narrow focuses, which is why his <font face="georgia,

serif”>informative, interesting and timely

 prose-style writing makes his work stand out from the crowd.

"Since I was a trial lawyer for some time, I’m pretty good at being a generalist and explaining things in a way that people could understand, and that’s kind of the key I think," Berk said.

Something Berk has learned in his blogging endeavors is that the art has no strict formula or rules to adhere to, but he believes it is essential to be true to his nature and character. His advice to other bloggers is to let their personalities shine through their work.

"Go with your style.  If you’re funny, make it funny.  If you’re serious, make it serious.  I think people just have to be comfortable and willing do with what they think they’re good at."

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a million, and Southern California attorneys Keith Davidson and Stewart Albertson have recently started using video commentary on their blog, California Trust, Estate and Probate Litigation, in a unique way that effectively demonstrates that the art of blogging nowadays is more than just words on a page.

"Not many lawyers have blogs on trust and will litigation because there aren’t that many lawyers who do it; and the ones who do, don’t have blogs with videos," said Davidson.

Having started their blog just over a year ago, Davidson and Albertson’s blog has quickly become an effective outlet for the duo, as they have been establishing themselves as experts on issues regarding trust, estate and probate laws in California. Not to mention picking up new clients along the way.

"(The blog) has helped with our visibility," said Davidson. "People can find us and when they call, they already assume we’re experts in the area because they’ve read the blog."

Perhaps the reason Davidson and Alberston’s blog is attractive to readers is because it conveys information in a way that is both conversational and easy to understand. Adding to the allure of the blog are the video posts, which feature Davidson and Albertson speaking in-depth about important issues pertaining to trust, probate and estate law. As a relatively new feature to the blog, the videos have not gotten much response, but they have helped Davidson and Albertson establish a visible web presence.

"(The videos) are fairly new so we haven’t gotten much feedback, but I think it’s going to be good to show who we are and our personality," said Davidson. "But I can tell you they’ve shot up our rankings on Google even more."

Though the blog is continuing to gain success, it comes with a time commitment. As partners of their own law firm, adjunct professors at Chapman University School of Law and family men, Davidson and Albertson find time to blog in between the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Davidson writes on weekends and quiet nights, using his iPad to reflect on interesting topics he sees from clients, the classroom and various social media outlets of which he follows.

"I find that trying to sit at my desk and come up with ideas is impossible," said Davidson. "But if you get away from it a little bit you can come up with better ideas."

Coming up with blog ideas is difficult at times, which is why Davidson suggests having the desire to write is a key component of successful blogging.

"You have to want to share information," said Davidson. "If you are doing it because you feel like you have to you, wont get really far."

 Today is the last day of what has been an extraordinary September here in Seattle, weather wise, but today’s gloom seems to indicate that fall is officially upon us.  As the seasons change and the leaves begin to fall, the LexBlog Network rakes up three blogs that have launched this week — including one from local firm Zarian Midgley.  Check out the latest additions to the LexBlog Network before you head home to catch the first round of the MLB playoffs.

  • Husch Blackwell‘s latest blog, Real Estate & Development Law Update is the firm’s third blog in the LexBlog Network.  This blog gives members of the firm’s Real & Estate Development team the opportunity to share their expertise on a number of issues and trends that affect owners, managers, developers, investors and financiers of real estate.
  • Not quite the Silicon Valley, but still a tech-savvy city, Seattle has a new watchdog for technology patents in attorney Dana Herberholz of boutique firm Zarian Midgley.  His new blog, Northwest Patent and Litigation Blog, emphasizes the important news and issues associated with patent litigation and patent prosecution.
  • Canadian firm Lawson Lundell‘s latest blog, Canadian Tax Law Blog is the firm’s third blog in the LexBlog Network.  This blog follows and reports on new developments related to taxation of individuals, corporations, trusts and partnerships in Canada.

When LexisNexis talks, people listen.  And when the premiere electronic legal research service in the world publishes a "best of" list, it is a big deal to be on that list.  The recently compiled "LexisNexis Top 25 Labor and Employment Law Blogs of 2011," features 13 blogs from the LexBlog Network.  Below is a list of all the blogs in the network that made the list, along with the reactions from a few of the authors about making the list and what it means to be part of such a distinguished company in the labor and employment law community. 

Blogging veteran Daniel Schwartz of Pullman & Comley has set a standard for legal blogging with his Connecticut Employment Law Blog.  Though it has been on many elite lists, the thing that is most important to the Hartford attorney is that readers still find his blog valuable and relevant after all this time.

"It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers and by others and having appeared on list like this in the past, it’s nice that four years into my blogging, people still recognize the value that the blog can bring.  I read several of the other blogs that are on the list and there’s a number of high quality law blogs that are out there, particularly on the LexBlog Network."

Columbus, Ohio attorney Brian Hall considers his blog, Employment Law Report, being on the list as a sign of the high quality of his work and credits the blog for giving his firm, Porter Wright, industry recognition beyond the Buckeye State.

"If you look up and down that list of blogs, there’s a lot of impressive lawyers and law firms that put out those blogs and just to be considered one of them is really an honor.  Being considered among that high quality a list validates what we’re doing as well.  When we got started, all we were really looking to do was make sure we were communicating legal developments to our clients as best we could and we were hopeful of getting a little more name recognition outside of the state of Ohio, but did not really ever expect that we would be getting this kind of recognition."

Anthony Zaller of Van Vleck, Turner & Zaller recognizes the difficulties associated with keeping a blog current and interesting while also facing the pressures associated with a hectic work schedule, which is why he considers it an honor that his blog, California Employment Law Report, is one of the top labor and employment blogs, as well as a testament to his ability to handle both a blog and a practice.

"It’s definitely hard to keep up on blogging and business and to keep your practice going. A lot of these other writers do a better job of keeping focus than I do, but I think blogging is something that is important to keep in mind and I try to do my best and I’m definitely honored to be in the company of these other bloggers.  I don’t know how I come up with ideas, it’s kind of just keeping it in the back of my mind in day-to-day activities.  Whenever I come across something that might be a good blog topic and once I have it in the back of my mind, I just go with it.  I don’t think getting the ideas for the blog post is the difficult part, it’s actually just sitting down and doing it and making the blog post."

Cozen O’Connor‘s Mike Schmidt explains that a key element to blogging is being able to reach an intended audience and his blog, Social Media Employment Law Blog, shows that the Philadelphia attorney is making good on that element of success.

"I am certainly honored that the blog has been recognized among the best with a certainly impressive group of other labor and employment blogs.  I think it’s important to not only provide good content but also to provide the content in a way that offers some value to the intended audience; in my case, employers looking for information on the impact of social media on employment law.  I’m happy that it’s been recognized and hopefully that’s an indicator of showing that I’ve been doing what I have meant to do so far."

As the lone international nominee on the list, Toronto attorney Lisa Stam is thrilled that her blog, Employment & Human Rights Law in Canada, made the list and credits the blog design as a big reason that her readership has increased.

"I was surprised because it’s an American list and usually Canadians are not on the radar in the first place and there are a lot of great Canadian blogs that were not on that list.  I am pleased.  I have no doubt that a lot of that has to do with the professional look of the blog that LexBlog puts out.  Our readership has expanded because of LexBlog, so that’s has a large contribution to it all.  To be in the company of some of the other blogs, it is a big deal for me, there are some big players there."

When Chicago attorney Jeff Nowak started FMLA Insights last year, neither Nowak nor his firm, Franczek Radelet, could have predicted the blog’s success.  Nowak is humbled to be on the same list as some of the great bloggers he has followed over time and hopes to learn from them and continue to grow as a labor and employment blogger.

"I am humbled and honored to be among some great labor and employment blogs.  I regularly read a number of them.  Those by Daniel Schwartz and Robin Shea come to mind.  There are some great blogs out there, particularly offered through LexBlog and I’m honored to be part of that group.  One year after going live with our FMLA Insights blog, I would never imagine, at this point, being among such elite company, but obviously I am excited about it.  I’m still learning more and more with every blog post and picking up on things that other bloggers do, which is always helpful."

Other blogs in the LexBlog Network that made this LexisNexis list include:

Voting for the "LexisNexis Top Labor and Employment Law Blog of the Year," ends Friday. With the LexBlog Network dominating the list, it is highly possible that one of our labor and employment bloggers is considered to be the new standard for the industry, according to LexisNexis.  Though there can only be one winner, we are endlessly proud of all the authors in our network who made the list, as well as all the other bloggers in the LexBlog Network who continue to pave the way for legal marketing through blogging.

The last official weekend of summer is now underway, but the surplus of long sleeves and pants must mean fall has come early in Seattle (not much of a surprise there).  The change in seasons brings about new beginnings.  With that said, we have three new blogs joining the LexBlog Network this week, all by AmLaw firms, so check them out.  Mintz Levin adds two new blogs to the network while Sullivan & Worchester adds its fourth blog to the network. Well,  I better go enjoy the sun while I still can, so have a great weekend everyone, see you in the fall!

  • The Art Law Report is authored by Nicholas O’Donnell of Sullivan & Worchester.  The legal implications surrounding the art communities has grown over the years and this small area of law has few resources.  Adding to the canon of this niche area of law, this blog provides updates and commentaries on legal issues relevant to those in the museum and visual art communities.  
  • Healthy Law & Policy Matters is published by Mintz Levin and authored by members of the firm’s Health Law Practice.  The vision for this blog is to highlight the most relevant information about the United States health care system and its reform.  On this blog, the contributing attorneys share creative ideas about improving the nation’s health care system.
  • Copyright & Trademark Matters is also published by Mintz Levin and authored by members of the firm’s Trademark & Copyright Practice.  Intellectual property is always hot a topic in the legal world and this blog offers professional insights on the developments in copyright and trademark law, which includes corporate & securities litigation, antitrust & federal regulation, life sciences and venture capital & emerging companies, among other important matters.

After establishing herself as one of the top family law experts in Massachusetts, Boston attorney Nancy Van Tine now has her sights set on establishing her expertise nationally and internationally and has chosen her blog, Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor, as a means of reaching the world at large.

"Divorce is a very local business and the laws are state-driven, but some of the general things are nationwide and it’s interesting to see how (others) cope with the same things we do." said Van Tine.  "Some (laws) are the same and some are wildly different."

As chair of the Divorce & Family Law Group and co-chair of the Private Client Group at Burns & Levinson, Van Tine has undoubtedly experienced a variety of issues in her 30-plus-year career as a family lawyer.  The issue that concerns her most are the general misconceptions about divorce law.  This notion was the driving force behind VanTine’s decision to create her blog two years ago.

"I started the blog because I felt there was a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of people think certain things about (divorce) that aren’t true," Van Tine said.

Conversational, insightful and clever, Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor contains Van Tine’s original thought and commentary on an array of important divorce issues relevant both in the media and in the lives of people she encounters on a daily basis.  In typical New England fashion, Van Tine’s posts are quick to the point and her passion for divorce law shines through her writing.

"My blog tends to be more personal than many lawyer blogs," said Van Tine.  "I thought it would be a good forum to talk about the (divorce) process itself and the ordinary bits and pieces that somebody out there looking for the information to do a divorce can get the information they need."

Van Tine’s credibility has kept her practice busy over the years, but her ability to deliver important and useful information to readers on her blog is what has brought recent success that has extended her network beyond Beantown and the Old Colony State.  Thanks to her blog, Van Tine has taken on many huge clients, including cases involved with the Hague Abduction Convention, an organization that handles international child custody and kidnapping cases.

"Initially, (blogging) would get me a client a month but now I probably don’t see anybody who hasn’t read the blog, which is really good because they feel like they know me when they come in," Van Tine said.

In addition to exposure to new clients, Van Tine has become a regular contributing writer for both the Huffington Post and Women’s Forum and has been mentioned in various publications and blogs.

"I feel very connected to a number of bloggers who quote me on their blogs and I quote them on mine and we link to each other periodically," Van Tine said.

With the recent slew of major clients and syndication writings, one might wonder how Van Tine finds time to blog.  She credits her support staff, comprised of younger lawyers under her wing who occasionally write posts in her absence, and her business development manager, Scott Katz, for keeping her multi-laterally focused.

"(Scott) keeps my nose to the grindstone, "  said Van Tine.  "If he doesn’t see anything going on for a few days on the backend, he’ll nudge me and its very good to have that."

The support to keep her publication regularly maintained has helped Van Tine tremendously, though she admits it can be tough at times.  Her advice to bloggers is to simply be consistent.

"Even if you don’t feel like it, get something up there at least once a week," Van Tine said.  "It really makes a difference for your readers."

If the LexBlog Network were to create a "Word of the Day" section, today’s word would definitely be "employment".  As you could probably guess, today’s roundup is heavy on employment and labor issues that range from wage and hour matters for employees in the event of a hurricane to fresh perspectives on the recent pregnancy discrimination ruling.  I know you have all been hard at work this week, so sit back, relax and enjoy the best blogs of the day as this Friday afternoon winds into a hopefully peaceful weekend.  Be well.