LexBlog is announcing today a national campaign to help bridge the legal services gap in this country.

The legal profession and the people we serve in this country face a two-sided legal crisis.

Consumers and small businesses, most of whom can afford a lawyer,  are less likely than ever to seek help from a lawyer and more likely than ever to handle legal problems themselves, or to take no action at all.

Caring and experienced lawyers who would welcome helping these people as clients do not have enough work. A 2017 Clio study found that small firm lawyers perform only 2.3 hours of legal work a day — and bill only 82 percent of that. Lawyers have become irrelevant to the majority of Americans.

The reasons for this legal services gap are varied and complex, but two prevail over all others. People do not understand what lawyers do and they distrust that lawyers will represent them well and at a reasonable cost. It is a crisis of communication and of trust.

Building trust and real communication are the keys to bridging this gap between consumers and lawyers. At LexBlog, we believe there is no more effective way to do both than through lawyers blogging in a real and authentic way. 

Trust is built through listening, empathy and conversation. Blogging has proven to be an effective way for lawyers and legal professionals, through their own voices, to build trust, connections and relationships with people in their communities.

We want to facilitate the opportunities for lawyers to connect with people – potential clients – and bridge the legal-services gap by highlighting and helping lawyers who already blog and making it easy for those who do not blog to get started.

For that reason, LexBlog is launching a national campaign to promote and build legal blogs. We are going to shine a light on the legal blogs and lawyers in cities and practice areas across the United States that serve consumers and small businesses.

We’ll both highlight the blogs and lawyers that already do this and make it easy and inexpensive to launch new blogs.

For legal professionals who already have blogs, LexBlog invites them to add their blogs to this campaign at no cost. For legal professionals who do not have blogs — and even for those who do not have websites at all — LexBlog is offering to create and host a blog for them at a low, fixed monthly rate of $49 that includes everything needed in a basic website or blog.

LexBlog’s “$49 Bridge the Gap Package” gives a legal professional everything needed to establish an Internet presence and begin blogging – and more.

  • Professional, mobile-friendly blog design
  • Free domain name
  • Hosting.
  • SEO and Google local search
  • Live customer support
  • Clio integration for client intake
  • Publication of your posts and profile on the LexBlog network.
    Publication to the Fastcase research database
  • Social media promotion
  • Ongoing platform and feature upgrades

The lawyers who care enough to take the time to blog about the bread-and-butter legal problems consumers and small business people face — family issues, benefits issues, domestic abuse, bankruptcy, estate planning, workplace issues, small-business issues, housing, and the like — are connecting with people in a real way and helping to educate them about how a knowledgeable and compassionate lawyer like them can help.

Think of the impact we can make together with 20 to 25 practice areas covered in 70 to 100 cities in this country – and in all 50 states.

Our profession has tried online marketing, directories and access to legal services programs. These solutions have benefited some, yet the legal-services gap only widens.

A blog, by definition, does not help to narrow the gap. It’s the willingness of caring lawyers to go out where people are and to engage people in a real way that establishes trust – so that more people see lawyers as relevant again.

By making it simple and affordable for lawyers to blog and highlighting their contributions through the LexBlog network, we believe we can bring more lawyers and people together to address their legal needs.

For more information on joining this campaign, whether with your existing blog, or by getting started with LexBlog’s “Bridge the Gap Package,” just go here.

I’m on record that blogging for lawyers is more than creating content.

I’ve wondered more than once if I may be creating a straw man argument on which to make a stand. But I always come back to blogging being a conversation, a way to engage one’s audience in a real and authentic way.

After all, the seminal book on corporate blogging from the early days of blogging, written in 2006, was entitled, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers.

The authors, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, talked about how blogs, bloggers and the blogosphere were changing how businesses communicate with their consumers and other stakeholders. Robert and Shel presented more than 50 case studies of companies and business leaders as leaders interacting with their audience. (emphasis added)

Effective legal bloggers tell me that when a new client comes in the client feels like they know the lawyer. They’ve heard the lawyer ‘talk’ to them via their blog. They thought the lawyer understood them and their problem. They liked the way the lawyer “talked.”

Often the client came from other than the blog itself. It was because of the lawyer’s word of mouth reputaton or a referral. The lawyer’s blog, when found on a Google search, LinkedIn, the lawyer’s website or the referral, put them over the top. The blog created an intimate relationship of trust.

When I first started blogging, I imagined I was talking to an audience of one – me. After a few posts I envisioned talking as a late night radio talk show host who must be reaching a few listeners in town.

I always envisioned people asking questions or wanting to know something. I talked to them on my blog the way I would over coffee at the local coffee shop or over a beer at the local pub.

Everything came from me, personally. Whether information or a perspective I picked up from a personal experience or something I read with a word as to why I shared the piece, it was always personal.

The first lawyer who called me about blogging, back in 2003, a Harvard and Northwestern grad, asked me how he could use blogging to develop work. He wondered if he should do what he saw a lawyer or two doing on their blogs – talking about movies, food etc.

I explained, no. Listen to your clients and prospective clients and respond to their inquires. What are the questions they ask? Take out a legal pad and write “Blog” at the top. Write down all the questions clients and prospective clients ask and answer them on your blog,

He responded, “that’s exactly what I do and how I get work.” Not on a blog, but in emails and on phone calls.

The lawyer blogged in a conversational and personal way based on the law he knew and his experiences as a lawyer. He increased his asset protection business expoetentinally as a national audience picked up on his “call in radio talk show.” A show with a national reach.

Sure, content in the form of legal information can be valuable. Done well, it’ll attract attention via Google and people to one’s blog or website.

But a lawyer still needs to close the deal – to establish trust as both a trusted and reliable authority and someone a prospective client, maybe one who has never contacted a lawyer before, feels comfortable contacting.

An intimate relationship of trust just seems more likely to come from blogging to engage, versus content alone.

As a result of poor publishing practices, law firms are inadvertently hurting lawyers and the law.

The influence of their lawyers is at risk, if not severely diminished, and the advancement of the law is curtailed.

How so? Through a combination of sloppy digital publishing practices and not recognizing the role law blogs and their blogging lawyers play in both the advancement of the law and the administration of justice itself.

Law blogs have achieved the status of secondary law, sitting equal to or even ahead of law reviews and law journals.

Blogs have democratized legal publishing. Practicing lawyers, usually with niche expertise, who never published in law reviews and journals are regularly sharing their insight in blogs. Areas of law never covered before are being covered by lawyers with deep expertise obtained by practicing law.

Blogs are routinely being cited — by blogs, in social media, in law review and law journal articles, in briefs and memorandums and by courts at the trial and appellate level. In just fifteen years, blogs have become part of legal dialogue and the administration of justice.

Each time a blog is cited, the relevant post is linked to. The blogging lawyer is routinely cited and linked to as well.

With each citation, the blog’s influence and the influence of the blogging lawyer is increased. Geometrically over time.

Influence not measured subjectively, but objectively by machines and algorithms. Think search engines, legal research solutions and artificial intelligence applications.

Sounds promising until you get to the publishing practices of many law firms.

  • Blogging lawyer leaves a firm and the lawyer’s name is removed from all blogs, and often replaced with the firm’s name. The parties who have cited the post and the lawyer are embarrassed when people go the citation through the link and the authority (the lawyer) is absent. Citations will dry up up as people are not going to cite a post without the authority. The lawyer’s influence takes a big hit with citations going away and search tools and social media no longer seeing the lawyer as an authority via their posts at the firm.
  • Blog posts are removed when a lawyer leaves a firm. Immediate dead link from all citations and again the lawyer’s influence takes a big hit.
  • Blogs are taken down altogether when a lawyer leaves. All citations gone, the lawyer’s body of work is destroyed and the lawyer’s influence takes a huge hit.
  • Law firms move their blogs from one website solution to another, often software solutions not designed for legal blogging and run by web development companies not proficient in blog publishing. Url’s are destroyed, thus destroying all the citations and measures of influence for the lawyers.

I say inadvertent as I don’t believe law firms are trying to damage the influence of their lawyers and their careers nor impede the advancement of the law or the administration of justice. But it’s happening and law firm publishing practices are the reason.

Time, an open discussion about law firm publishing practices and uniform linking and citations, likely through WordPress, will correct things – or at least reduce the problem.

Law firms will not want to be know for being a firm that does not enable lawyers to grow their influence and career while publishing at the firm while other firms do. They won’t to be known for impeding the advancement of the law or the administration of justice. They’ll also not want to be known as not being tech savvy enough to run or select a proper publishing solution.

This issue is a serious one. I spoke this week with one of the authorities at the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School working on Perma.cc. Recognizing the gravity of broken links in the law and the sheer number of them, Perma.cc has developed a service that helps scholars, courts and others create web citation links that will never break. We talked about systems and solutions to reduce and prevent link rot (broken citations) in more legal blogs.

Fifteen years ago, most could not have foreseen the need for uniform practices for legal blog publishing. But the day has come to begin work on it.

The question of whether bloggers are included in the definitions of “press” arose at this year’s International Legal Technology (ILTA) Conference.

Historically, ILTA invited bloggers as part of the press, but this year put limits, seemingly arbitrary, on which bloggers received press passes.

Many bloggers (LexBlog had previously received press credentials) received a response akin to:

Bloggers seeking press credentials must be working journalists or be affiliated in an editorial capacity with a qualified news outlet as described above..

which read:

…credentialed journalists (i.e., professional reporters, editors, writers, news photographers, producers and online editors) who work for a publication, news service, broadcast outlet or news site that is regularly issued and published primarily for the dissemination of news, and operates independently from any commercial, political, government or special interest. Only media whose primary responsibility is the coverage of the legal, legal technology, technology industry, workforce tech issues, and related news will be considered for credentials.

Tom O’Connor rightfully called out ILTA for its denial of press passes to many bloggers, quite a few of whom had been long time supporters of the association.

During the conference, ILTA reached out to bloggers and other members of the press to formulate a more progressive policy when it came to bloggers.

My understanding is that ILTA attempted to work with bloggers who attended so they were included as press and is now looking to bloggers to help formulate a new policy going forward.

As part of those discussions and from what I have found out with regard to other association conferences, it turns out that legal conferences, in general. have a problem giving press passes to people who are members of the organization holding the conference or that are employed by a company.

Apparently the goal in declining press passes to the organization’s members is to force those members who blog to pay registration fees and to blog favorably of the conference and the association.

Declining press passes to those employed by companies (who isn’t?) apparently prevents an employee of a legal services company from reporting only things favorable to their company and motivates the company to buy exhibition space to hawk their services.

Nice to see that people in the legal profession think so little of the press, bloggers included, to think you may define the press to your favor.

How to define the press and who gets press passes for legal conferences? Easy, per veteran legal journalist, Bob Ambrogi.

Media registration shall be afforded to any individual who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes news or information about matters of public interest for dissemination to the public in any medium, whether print or electronic.

The press is the press. The fact that the Internet democratized the press and put a pen in the hands of more people, many with niche knowledge of an industry and its goings on, didn’t change anything.

Conferences and associations should welcome bloggers with open arms. The number of trade publications and reporters working for them is a fraction of what it was 10 or 15 years ago.

Ask any public relations person trying to get client coverage at conferences how hard it is today. The press list at many conferences is a joke. No one is there to report.

Get bloggers there covering your exhibitors and speakers and you’re gold as a conference coordinator.

Many exhibitors have told me they have received more valuable business from LexBlog’s coverage of them at a conference than through their exhibit space.

Most speakers are not reimbursed travel expenses, let alone paid for their time. The benefit from speaking comes in building a name. Getting interviewed at or before a conference or your having talk covered is more valuable than talking itself.

Without bloggers, coverage of exhibitors and speakers will be scarce at best. There are not enough of what conferences may call “reporters” and the “reporters” there don’t have enough of an interest in niches to want to cover sessions.

Want to get more people coming to your conference and joining your association, create excitement. Coverage via blogging and other social media does this.

Blogs have a free and open RSS feed and email subscribers. Put 15 or 20 bloggers in your confernce and you’ll have their feeds displayed on LexBlog with more niche coverage on the confernce than you’ll ever get from “Traditonal” legal media. You’ll also reach the bloggers’ email and RSS subscribers.

Limiting coverage of your conference to those people you call a “reporter” is putting your naivety on display.

Look around, media has changed. People get their news and information from people they trust, often via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “Traditional” legal media is wholefully behind on that front.

You benefit from bloggers. Be smart and show some leadership.

Recognize that you are part of the legal profession. A profession that stands for freedom of the press — a press that includes bloggers.

Are we seeing a resurgence in law blogs?

Something’s going on. Whether it’s more lawyers seeing the power of blogs, law blogs taking their place alongside traditional legal publishing (or replacing it), the ease of blog publishing today or me just seeing more good law blogs and bloggers, I don’t know.

I was speaking with a CMO of a 150 lawyer firm this morning whose firm has three blogs who is looking to upgrade those blogs and add more legal blogs. The non-blogging lawyers saw the amount of client and prospective client engagement generated by the existing blogs and now want to get started with blogs of their own.

Later on I received a message from a larger firm that has not traditionally blogged that they wanted to talk blogging, particularly with regard to a tight niche in technology.

My colleague, friend and LexBlog’s editor-in-chief and publisher, Bob Ambrogi says that he can feel new energy in legal blogging since he joined LexBlog at the beginning of the year and LexBlog began to aggregate and curate legal blogs on LexBlog.com.

Limited data would certainly suggest a rise. Over 17,700 legal professionals are blogging on our publishing platform, alone. That number continues to rise.

I’m talking of real law blogs. Blogs authored and written by caring, experienced and passionate lawyers, not blogs penned by folks other than the lawyer for the purpose of web traffic. Let alone the ethical issues those blogs raise, the blogs are little more than a billboard alongside I-95. An advertisement.

This country has thousands and thousands of lawyers with tremendous niche expertise. They represent victims of domestic abuse in getting a restraining order, work on funding deals for hundreds of millions of dollars, advise individuals on the formation of small businesses in Midwestern towns and appear in front of government of county, state and federal agencies on all sorts of matters.

These lawyers can offer one hundred times the practical insight as reporters with traditional legal news publications who can only quote authorities like these lawyers.

With the democratization of publishing, via blogs, these lawyers, in increasing numbers, are taking to the press – their own – to advance the law and their careers.

As we add tools to mine data from LexBlog’s aggegation and syndication platform, we’ll have better data to support the notion of a legal blogging surge. But for now, I’ll go with what Bob says, there’s a new energy in legal blogging.

Law blogs published by practicing lawyers, particularly blogs published on niches, improve people’s access to legal services.

“People” refers to any and all of us — consumers, small business people, executive directors, corporate executives and in-house counsel.

I’ve never talked with a lawyer publishing a good law blog who hasn’t found that many of the people who contact her or him felt more comfortable doing so because of the lawyer’s blog.

Makes all the sense in the world.

Imagine looking for doctor in a speciality for a relative in anther city. Google the city and the speciality. You’re apt to get hospital and clinic websites done by marketing people.

Areas of Expertise: Dr. B’s expertise includes clinical cardiology, interventional cardiology, echocardiography and nuclear cardiology.
Special Interests: Dr. B has special interest in coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease.
Personal Information: Dr. B enjoys literature, arts and the outdoors.

Really, I am supposed to make a decision on a doctor based on that info or maybe by calling another doctor who will say Dr. B is a good guy and does a nice job in surgery.

Now imagine a doctor who blogged, maybe on their approach to working with patients or on topics advancing the treatment of coronary heart disease by referencing the writings of other doctors in the field, nation and world-wide.

Imagine that doctor’s blog posts being cited by doctors and shared on social media. It happens, even in the most complicated fields.

What do you know in your search for a doctor? This doctor stays up to speed in their field, they’re widely respected by peers, they are a giving person – not only to the medical profession, but to patents and the public.

Who do you trust? Who is more approachable?

It’s the same with lawyers. Imagine a family law lawyer in Springfield, Illinois blogging about domestic abuse issues.

She shares experiences, without blowing confidences. She shares information about the resources and organizations that a battered spouse kicked out of the family home with children and no money can turn to.

A victim in Springfield can Google “domestic abuse,” without even including Springfield, and retrieve the lawyer’s blog at the top of the search results.

More importantly than the information and blog posts on the lawyer’s blog is the immediate trust the victim develops in the lawyer. An intimate level of trust without ever having met the lawyer or being told anything about the lawyer.

And what is the victim apt to do? Call the lawyer. Amazing in a day when people have legal needs the last thing they would do is call a lawyer. It’s obvious why. People just don’t trust lawyers.

Lawyer profiles on law firm websites are just as bad as that doc’s profile. They tell us nothing about the lawyer from which we trust the lawyer enough to call them. We’ll call them only as a last resort.

We’re not talking about just consumers getting access to legal services via blogs. There isn’t an in-house counsel at Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, Google or Facebook who dosesn’t come to trust the insight and information on niche focused law blogs published by practicing lawyers.

Blogs that develop trust in the lawyer and result in the hiring of lawyers, whether done via the blog itself, seeing the lawyer speak at a conference, or having the lawyer referred because of their growing name.

Access to legal services, by its definition requires identifying a lawyer who knows what they’re doing in the area in which you have a need. Calling a buddy (even a lawyer), business colleague, relative or friend is no assurance you’ll get such a lawyer.

In the last decade while organizations and associations have studied the access to legal services problem — and while people are seeking legal services from other than lawyers — we’ve grown from a nation of hundreds of legal bloggers to a nation of thousands of legal bloggers.

We have a long way to go, but law blogs are improving people’s access to legal services — and access to skilled lawyers.

Turns out that doctors blog for the same reasons as lawyers blog – to share expertise, build relationships, make connections with patients (clients with lawyers) and correct the misinformation online.

From a piece in The Medical Bag, an online resource for health care professionals:

Blogging has become a powerful tool for physicians to share their expertise, build better relationships with their patients, and make connections online. Many also turn to blogging as a way to combat the deluge of online medical misinformation.

With the Internet having turned into a giant billboard of professionals attempting to grab attention and web traffic, it’s refreshing to see doctors looking to make connections with people in a real and authentic fashion. Better yet, to help people where they are today — online.

As with the law, there’s a boat load of medical misinformation online. Comes from people shooting from the hip across social networks as well as web and SEO marketing companies, who with no medical expertise, kick out marginal content, like legal marketers, to get attention and web traffic.

Doctors need to blog to fight off the misinformation,  per Linda Girgis,  a board-certified family physician in South River, New  Jersey and a professor at Rutgers University Medical School, who blogs at Dr. Linda.

There’s so much health and medical information being written these days, and much of it is not being written by medical experts. It’s important that more doctors start blogging and sharing information so we can combat all the fake news and pseudoscience out there.

Like lawyers, blogging gets doctors outside their comfort zone. May be as simple as getting comfortable networking with people online or picking up new skills associated with blogging — assuming a doctor wants to get into the tech side of things.

From Patricia Salber, MD, a board-certified internist and emergency physician, who has been blogging at The Doctor Weighs since 2005:

I have had to gain many skills completely separate from medicine and medical writing in order to grow the business, [such as] HTML, WordPress, search engine optimization…and more. I am now doing technical things on the site that I never dreamed would be part of my day-to-day life, including troubleshooting complex technical issues and trying to learn a bit of web design. I have learned the joy of continuing to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and learn new skills far different from the ones acquired in medical training.

Medical blogging is not without its challenges, per Girgis. Time management and calendaring for blogging is one. And there are the trolls, that are better left ignored.

I write about many controversial topics and welcome debate and disagreement. But I have been shocked many times when people just come out hurling insults because they don’t like what I say. While it is tempting to reply back, often it is best just to ignore them and move on.

I am sure it’s a small minority of doctors who blog. The connections, relationships, helping people, sharing expertise, and making a difference are all there, but most doctors simply won’t feel comfortable giving of themselves online. Others won’t put in the time it takes.

It’s the same with lawyers.

From 28-year-old journalist, Mickey Djuric, last week on launching the community news site, Daily Jaw, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan last week:

I’m part of the generation that made Google popular. We made Twitter a news platform. We are the reason Facebook is succesful. So I feel confident in my ability to publish online.

As reported by CBC News, Djuric was a Moose Jaw Times Herald reporter who resigned in 2015 over the paper’s refusal to publish a video she had shot. The video showed a Saskatchewan MP using what she thought was vulgar language in describing a political candidate.

But Djuric felt an affinity for Moose Jaw and a desire to return “home,” especially with the closing of  the Moose Jaw Times-Herald which closed down after 128 years.

I have always felt a sense of responsibility toward this city to do good journalism, and that’s really what inspired me to come back.

Djuric sees small communities “under-served and under-reported” by journalism.

I’m hoping to change that. I’m hoping to bring more clarity when it comes to news, and what’s fact and what’s not.

Boy, Djuric sounds a lot like many young lawyers.

  • Grew up with the Internet and been part of the rise of social media while in college and law school.
  • A desire to return home.
  • A senses of responsibility to serve others.
  • A desire to escape the traditional.

One big way to serve others as a young lawyer is to start a niche focused law blog. Maybe it’s a focus on an area of the law with a community. Maybe it’s a more focused niche with a state or national focus.

Long time legal journalist and now editor=in-chief of LexBlog, Bob Ambrogi, regularly talks about the decline of legal reporting with coverage being but a fraction of what it was. Ambrogi sees law blogs as being the most vibrant form of legal reporting and commentary.

As I discussed yesrday with Greg Lambert, Chief Knowledge Services Officer for Jackson Walker, there are so many locales and subjects going unserved with regard to legal news and information. Places there is no blog on any number of areas of law.

Want to serve, fill a void and make difference? Find your passion and local and get after it blogging.

Unlike Djuric, as a lawyer you don’t have to worry about funding your jpournalism. Niche law blogging builds a name and relationships, the linchpins of developing business for good lawyers.

Like Djuric, put immediate return (in her case it’s advertising) on the backburner to focus on building a brand.

I think it’s important for me first to develop who we are as a brand and that we will stand for good journalism, that our journalism will be straight-up honest and it will not be fluffy,

You’ll not be a journalist reporting daily, but you will be making the law more accessible to people by posting to your blog two to four times a month.

Djuric believes we’re going to see more independent journalism models popping up in Canada. I believe we’re going to see a lot of niche law blogs popping up across Canada and the U.S. – my guess is Ambrogi would agree.

Nellie Bowles penned a wonderful piece in the The New York Times this week on ‘Report for America,’ a non-profit organization, modeled after AmeriCorps, aiming to install 1,000 journalists in understaffed newsrooms by 2022.

Molly Born, one of the first selected for the program who covers the coal fields for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, told Bowles,

I felt like I needed to give something back to a place that has given a lot to me, and journalism is the way for me to do that.

It’s important to have reporters based in parts of America where some people feel misunderstood. It just helps us get a greater understanding of who we are and who our neighbors are.

Bowles report on the plight of journalists sounds earily similar to the plight of small law in communities across our country – even blogging lawyers.

Historically, reporters would start their careers at small publications and move on to progressively larger ones. These days, young journalists tend to find work right out of college — but the jobs they end up with often don’t require them to take time talking to story subjects face to face or learning about different communities.

“Maybe they have done that Brooklyn thing, where you spend a year or two in a cubicle working for a blog,” Charles Sennott [co-founder of Report for America, who covered wars and insurgencies in more than a dozen countries as the Jerusalem-based Middle East bureau chief for The Boston Globe], 55, said. “But that’s not the same as being on the ground doing the real work, knocking on a door and walking into someone’s kitchen.”

In 1990, daily and weekly newspaper publishers employed about 455,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By January 2016, that number had fallen to 173,000.

How many lawyers are getting first hand experience, eye to eye, with a client? Many lawyers feel trapped doing work for other lawyers, never having having client interaction.

Other lawyers know no better than kicking out or buying content as a way to “market” themsleves. These lawyers have no clue what blogging really is nor how blogging works to build trust, a name and a book of business.

Law blogs penned by small firm lawyers addressing the needs of individuals and small businesses could be much the same as Report America.

Less than 20% of the people in this country have meaningful access to the law. Crushing student loans drive law grads to large law, less demand for small town law, tech driven efficiencies driving down prices and alternative online legal services are only making matters worse – for both people needing a lawyer and for lawyers who’d like to help them.

Leading legal ethics lawyer, Will Hornsby, and himself a champion for access to legal services wrote almost 20 years ago about personal plight areas of the law. By personal plight, Hornsby meant areas of the law in which an individual or small business person needed a lawyer right now.

Personal plight includes bankruptcy, workers compensation, divorce, employment, criminal, real estate, personal injury, immigration, disability, social security, estate planning and more.

Blog (law) for America in the form of blogging lawyers covering personal plight areas of law for two or three hundred communities could be quite a force.

Blogs by local lawyers not only provide meaningful information, but establish trust – something lawyers sorely lack when it comes to individuals and small businesses.

Unlike corp members in Report America, lawyers don’t need a stipend or grant of  $40,000 for two years. Lawyers have a revenue model – it’s called getting paid for the legal services you render.  Law blogs generate work.

In addition to generating revenue, law grads get first hand experience talking with clients face to face – across the kitchen table, if you will.

Blog (law) for America is a win-win. Individuals and small business people get access to localized law from a local attorney who cares about their city or town and who knows the nuances of the law being applied locally. These folks learn to trust a local lawyer who enjoys what they do and whom earns an okay living.

Lawyers who want to, do real law, person to person, and earn a living doing so.

“The internet is not ruined just because there are a few assholes on it.”

This from author, journalism professor, media consultant and long time blogger, Jeff Jarvis,  discussing the positive things he is seeing with the open Internet, digital journalism, Internet advertising and social media platforms.

…[L]et’s please remember that the internet is not ruined just because there are a few assholes on it. This, too, is why I insist on not seeing the net as a medium. It is Times Square. On Times Square, you can find pickpockets and bad Elmos and idiots, to be sure. But you also find many more nice tourists from Missoula and Mexico City and New Yorkers trying to dodge them on their way to work.

Let’s bring some perspective to the media narrative about the net today. Please go take a look at your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram feeds or any Google search. I bet you will not find them infested with nazis and Russians and trolls, oh, my. I will bet you still find, on the whole, decent people like you and me. I fear that if we get carried away by moral panic we will end up not with a bustling Times Square of an internet but with China or Singapore or Iran as the model for a controlled digital future.

Too many lawyers, law professors, legal technology entrepreneurs, access to justice leaders and other legal professionals stay away from social media and even blogging because of their belief that the Internet is overrun with noise and crazies.

Very few law schools incorporate social learning into their teaching as a means of getting students to learn, collaborate and network across social media channels. Law professors and deans, who shy away from the net out of ignorance, don’t see the potential.

A business colleague stays away from social media, in part, because of the Russians meddling in our election and businesses possibly violating people’s privacy.

A consultant who helps law firms build a more profitable and efficient practice through the use of technology questioned my second guessing the majority of law firms’ failure to use social media strategically, wanting empirical evidence that social media could be worthwhile for lawyers.

I am not against social media but I do think it tends to be an echo chamber where those who do use it talk a lot about it to others who use it, while most of my atty friends & clients see it as the time suck it can be.

I suppose it could be a time suck to hang out with and engage those discussing only the subject of social media. But ask any appellate lawyer, general counsel or legal entrepreneur using social media to learn, network and grow business if that’s who they’re hanging out with.

Things are far from perfect on the Internet, per Jarvis, and it’s going to take an effort to solve some of its challenges.

First let’s be clear: No one — not platforms, not ad agencies and networks, not brands, not media companies, not government, not users — can stand back and say that disinformation, hate, and incivility are someone else’s problem to solve.

But I’m with Jarvis, “The net is good.”

Good for lawyers, legal journalists, access to justice leaders, legal technology entrepreneurs, law students and legal association leaders.

Staying away from the Internet because you see a few asses on it is dumb.