Bob Ambrogi and I have been talking this week about getting people, companies and organizations to blog as way of communicating, collaborating and advancing solutions in their industry as a whole..

Bob, who just joined LexBlog as editor-in-chief and Publisher, is in Seattle all week. In meetings and in discussions over a pint, breaking the silo effect (as I’ll call it) regularly comes up – one, as a problem that should be solved and two, a problem that blogging and LexBlog can help solve.

Take legal technology companies, which Bob writes about everyday at his blog, LawSites. How many legal tech entrepreneurs and company founders blog so as to share what they are working on? Hardly any.

If they’re blogging as a company, they have a marketing focused blog on their website with posts focused on a new product, a conference they are speaking at or attending or other news that’s often more befitting of a press release. The blog posts are often written by someone with no expertise in the technology being advanced by the company.

There’s no blogging on what software or technology they are working with to develop solutions, the challenges they are facing in development and how they overcame the challenges.

There is no blogging of what and who they are following so as to share what they are learning. There is no offering their take on what they are seeing in the field, the opportunities they see with technology and where they see things headed.

Some might think no sane person would share their thinking, what their company is developing and how things are going. The fear being that someone is going to copy you – the secret is out.

But what company is going to stop what they are doing and say we need to start doing what Acme Legal Tech said they are doing in a blog post. Any company that’s that misguided is the last company you need to worry about.

Blogging in an open fashion grows a network. Bloggers, company leaders, technologists, followers, conference attendees who engage you.

When 10, 50 or 100 people do this, you start to move ideas and solutions exponentially faster. Does anyone really believe the fastest way to advance technology is to raise capital, fail inside your silo after two years or get bought out by a large company whose interests may be adverse to the advancement of technology.

Blogging leaves a record of thought and advancement for the benefit of those who follow along.

Blogging will not only break the silo in legal technology, there’s many other places in the law.

Law school deans are struggling big time. How do we attract students? What’s an innovative curriculum? Should technology be taught, and if so, what, who and by whom? How do we get our grads employed? What are law firms looking for? What will law firms and in-house counsel be looking for in grads two and three years from now? Is what we’re doing any different than other law schools?

But how many Deans collaborate by listening, sharing and engaging through the Internet? Hardly any. I am sure there are some deans blogging in an engaging (versus artcle writing) fashion? I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

So much is being lost for law students, professors, law school employees and alumni by law school deans not advancing discussion, collaboration and practices. But yet law school deans are acting in silos and ignoring the Internet.

Sure, there are conferences for law school professors and deans. There’s one this week in California. There’s other dialogue one to one and otherwise.

That’s all good, but it’s much like someone saying I’ve got the horse out in the stable behind the house when there’s a car out front that does 70. There’s nothing that compares with blogging when it comes to networking, collaboration, learning and advancing ideas.

The list goes on.

Think of the underfunded legal services corporation with 800 offices across the country. Challenges galore with necessity being the mother of invention in spades. Technology being developed at the state and local level to bring access to legal services.

Yet there’s no rapid fire listening, sharing, collaborating and advancing solutions (technology or otherwise) in a common fashion. So many people who could be better served. Again, blogging by legal services’ people and technologist is largely absent.

The Internet works for learning, sharing and the advancement of ideas and solutions when leaders get of their silos. The vehicle for getting outside the silos is blogging.

Sounds crazy that lawyers beginning to use the Internet would be viewed as a legal tech trend for 2018.

But that’s what Keith Lee, a Birmingam attorney and editor of Associate’s Mind shared with Clio in their survey of “Top Law Firm Technology Trends to Watch for in 2018.”

As Lee sees it, the biggest risk for lawyers in 2018 is the demand for legal services is not growing, it’s shrinking.

Combine that with the trend I said was a threat last year (non-lawyer legal services) and that means there are more people competing for a pie that isn’t growing. Below average lawyers are going to be squeezed out.

Jordan Couch (@jordanlcouch) of Palace Law agrees.

As clients demand the same services for less money, lawyers will have to find new ways to increase volume if they are to maintain the same workload and profits.

Reiterating his prediction from last year, Lee sees the internet as the biggest opportunity for solos and small firms to prevent from being squeezed out.

Uber didn’t exist five years ago. Now it’s a multi-billion dollar company and has supplanted the word ‘taxi’ from the everyday lexicon. The internet is still the Wild West. Attorneys need to embrace it.

I don’t know that Lee is referring to individual lawyers reengineering the delivery of legal services the way Uber reengineered local travel, but Lee is pointing out the obvious — that being that the Internet is too valuable to waste.

And boy do most lawyers waste the opportunity to use the Internet. The Internet for lawyers, in their work, stops with email, legal research, cloud based business services and the limited use of social networks.

Lee and I met each other through blogging. I suspect the majority of people Lee knows, professionally and personally, he met through blogging and social media.

To Lee, myself and many legal professionals, entrepreneurs and business leaders the use of the Internet comes naturally. It’s how we learn, how we engage others, how we get known and how we grow business.

Ask most lawyers about blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for building a name as a leading lawyer, nurturing relationships and growing business. They haven’t a clue.

Ask yourself. Are you really using the Internet to prevent being squeezed out? If you don’t have enough good work, are you using the Internet to increase the volume of your work so as maintain the same workload and profits.

I am not referring to a refresh of a website and forking out money to get people to your website. A website that does little, if anything, to distinguish you from other lawyers.

I am referring to really using the Internet to take a step up in who you are and what you do and, as a result, to do some things for your family.

If someone told you that there was a powerful tool to grow legal business, it was relatively inexpensive and less than one percent of your competitors were using it, you’d be all over finding out more.

Well, it’s the Internet. And Lee is right, “The Internet is still the Wild West. Attorneys need to embrace it.”

Long time blogger and New York Criminal Defense Lawyer, Scott Greenfield, continues the fourth wave of law blogging discussion in his announcement that there won’t be a J-Dog Memorial Prize, awarded the last five years to the Best Criminal Law Blawg Post. The award is named after criminal attorney, Joel Rosenberg.

There have been occasional blawg posts from the elders of the crim law blawgosphere, but only a few, and only occasionally. It’s not that these aren’t good and worthwhile posts, but you already know their work, read their brilliance, and don’t need me or this contest to spread the word.

The J-Dog award need not be over.

Last month, Greenfield and I had lunch back in Oyster Bay and and agreed the time was ripe for a fourth wave of blogging. Real blogging by real lawyers, as opposed to lawyers and law firms throwing up “blogs” to grab attention and web traffic. Some even written for the lawyers by “ghost bloggers” and marketing companies.

The “blogs as advertising” approach used by so many lawyers opens the door for real lawyers to shine in their blogging.

{T]here is a huge opportunity here. There are still people whose brains desire more than an insipid twit filled with emotional angst. There are people who want to think, to engage with others who want to think, and there are few places to go to do so.

Don’t whine that no one will see you when you start blogging and that everything in the world has already been blogged about. Get over it.

Start a blawg. Let me know about it. Let others know about it. If you have the chops, word will spread. Keep it up. Engage with serious people about serious things. Recognize that there was a blawgosphere before you got here, but also know that old subjects and issues keep arising again. For people who didn’t see the ubiquitous discussions the first time, or second, or tenth time around, they’re brand new.

Law blogging is more important than most lawyers and marketers understand. With the decline of legal journalism and legal commentary moving online and away from traditional law reviews and journals, it’s blogs where much of the law gets reported and legal dialogue is advanced.

Veteran legal journalist and blogger, Bob Ambrogi, in his announcement that he’s joining LexBlog as editor-in-chief and publisher, made clear the importance of law blogs.

[T]here is one area of legal publishing in which coverage and analysis is increasing, in which key legal developments are regularly tracked, and where all of the content is free, no subscriptions required. It is a medium in which leading lawyers, academics, technologists, law librarians, consultants, vendors and other legal professionals are regularly contributing their insights and knowledge. It is, without doubt, the most vibrant area of legal publishing that exists.

I’m talking, of course, about blogging.

Sitting in my garage fourteen years ago, I ran across this blog thing. Wow, perfect for lawyers. Lawyers who are passionate about what they do, no matter whether a solo or a in a large law firm with a big marketing budget, could offer their commentary on the law.

Legal publishing had been democratized. Blogging lawyers could build a name for themselves in the same way the big name lawyers and scholars always have.

There was no way lawyers could turn blogs into advertisements beckoning a call or a chat in a pop-up chat window. Blogging took some thought, some passion and a little work. No lawyer would try and fake that. I was wrong.

Real blogging is far from dead though. There are plenty of good passionate lawyers who have something to offer. Real law blogging is too important not to encourage and grow.

From Greenfield:

The blawgosphere may not be vital, as it once was, but whether or not it’s dead is up to all of us. And if it’s dead, thought dies with it, and we’re left to the insipid twitter stars whose appeals to emotion will replace nuance, thought and serious debate. Don’t let that happen. All you have to do to prevent this catastrophe is to start thinking, start writing and stick with it.

Greenfield’s hit on something. We’re here for you if you want to start law blogging. Veteran law bloggers will not only help you blog, but get you known by sharing and referencing the thoughts you’re sharing in your blog. That’s what we do.

Veteran law bloggers welcome new bloggers in their field. It makes for a more vibrant discussion. Blogging is not a zero sum game.

Law bloggers take pride in the collective work of bloggers. As Ambrogi says, blogging is the most vibrant legal publishing taking place. Those of us out here want to grow law blogging.

Start a blawg (law blog), as Greenfield says, and engage with real lawyers about real things. Word will grow, so will your reputation and so will legal dialogue and publishing.

Law blogging has come a long way in the last fifteen years. Not all of it for the good.

Real lawyers engaging on real subjects in an authentic fashion, for many lawyers and law firms, has gone the way of content marketing sold as a billboard for eyeballs by web development companies.

Rather than contributing to the discussion on the law and making a sincere effort to make the law more digestible for average folks, we have lawyers buying content from marketers to slap on a website with the only goal being search engine traffic.

My friend, Scott Greenfield, a New York criminal defense lawyer and long time blogger at Simple Justice, is right that blogging takes effort and desire.

Most people just don’t have the chops or interest in doing it. Some suck at it. Some aren’t nearly as fascinating as they think they are.

Furthermore, law blogging takes being authentic, having a face, being real. In the absence of being real and putting in the effort, lawyers “buy content from Bangalore or walk away,” as Greenfield puts it.

He’s right. Talking with legal journalist and long time law blogger, Bob Ambrogi, last week, he asked me what I thought the number one reason was for lawyers to stop blogging. Without a doubt, it’s because the lawyers don’t know what blogging is, or if they do, they won’t do it.

A month or two ago, I announced, a blog where my team and I can share open, honest and authentic thoughts on what we’re learning and thinking. God knows a LexBlog website with slick phrases, pictures, colors, testimonials and the like doesn’t do a thing to let lawyers and law firms know who we are and what we stand for.

I’d hope lawyers trying cases, guiding companies and handling the affairs of the wealthy to the downtrodden would want more. Maybe a company whose story is told, personally, on an ongoing basis about what the people working there are reading, learning, thinking and doing.

Greenfield’s correct that I haven’t given up on telling lawyers about the virtues of blogging. Engaging in niche focused discussions so as to get known and build relationships is just too darn good when it comes to being a real lawyer. Making a good living by virtue of who you are, versus the color of your website and the words we bought, is the stuff we went to law school for.

Add to this that real blogging lawyers make the law and lawyers more accessible.

Any lawyer who’s tried cases knows that jurors aren’t dumb. Give them some straight talk and good information from witnesses they can trust. You may stumble and be unpolished at times, so long as you’re honest, sincere and authentic. They’ll figure it out, despite the glitz and glamour thrown at them by the lawyers hiding the truth.

Blogging lawyers who share what they’re reading and offer their take on a regular basis give consumers, business people, other lawyers and the media a view inside niche areas of the law. A view these folks don’t get from a book or mainstream media. They sure as heck don’t get a glimpse of the law from some words sold to a lawyer.

Lawyers become accessible when people trust them. Give people this window into who they can trust as a lawyer and they’ll be more likely to reach out to a lawyer. Real blogging does this.

I don’t know, maybe I am just giving myself a “you can do it” talk before I take to the streets to to convince more lawyers to do some real blogging. But I will take the bone that Greenfield threw me.

I hope Kevin’s onto something. I suspect people will tire of cute and insipid quips and will return to the days when actual thought and illuminating commentary were available online. It’s time for a fourth wave of blogging where real lawyers write about real stuff for real. But it won’t be all donuts.

I can run hit the streets with this “fourth wave of blogging,” Scott. Stayed tuned in 2018.

The Financial Times’ Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson’s report from Bowling Green, Kentucky on why Americans do not trust news from mainstream journalists signals why law blogs published by local lawyers will be more trusted than other online legal information.

From Edgecliffe-Johnson:

According to Gallup, America’s trust in mass media peaked at 72 per cent in 1976, the year All the President’s Men hit cinemas. By last year, that figure had plunged to 32 per cent…

Sam Ford, an MIT research affiliate who grew up in Bowling Green, tells Edgecliffe-Johnson that “most journalists are from elsewhere.”

As Craigslist and Walmart hollowed out local business models, America’s remaining journalism jobs become concentrated in cosmopolitan, economically successful and liberal coastal cities. If you only meet a reporter when they parachute in from Washington or New York to cover an election, natural disaster…, “that changes the relationship a community has to journalism” Ford says.

Local news in Bowling Green means Joe Imel, the director of media operations at the Bowling Green Daily News. Imel runs the presses of the 163 year-old paper “with a police scanner in hand and a pillar-of-the-community appetite for school board meetings and little league results.”

“You guys cover the flash and trash. We’re the ones sitting down covering the day in and day out things,” Imel tells Edgecliffe-Johnson, “If we were to go away, you’d never know they’d raised your taxes.”

James Neal, the owner of a small Bowling Green grocery and filling station, hits the nail on the head on where many Americans turn for news. He told Edgecliffe-Johnson he “prefers to get his news from his patrons than than the journalists…”

The Internet democratized news publishing. Whether it be a blog, website or social network, we begun to our get news from each other. News truly became what someone told us.

The value and validity we placed in this news is determined by how much we trust the messenger, the publisher.  Common sense dictates that many Americans would trust “locals” more than others.

Blogs have democratized reporting and commentary for local lawyers. Lawyers have the ability to share helpful and practical legal information on general or niche subjects for the people in their town or municipality. The algorithms running Google and other social networks see to it that locals get the local lawyer’s blog commentary.

Unfortunately, lawyers have not seized this opportunity to share legal information with locals. Websites, often filled with canned content written by others thousands of miles away don’t engage locals. People don’t trust them.

The void is filled by large organizations publishing legal information online. Whether Avvo, Legal Zoom, Rocket Lawyer, the ABA or state bar associations, the people penning this online legal information and commentary have never lived in the towns they are looking to reach.

The legal information and commentary, though somewhat relevant, has no local flair or anecdotes. No “reporter” who’s walked the streets of the town, talked with locals in coffee shops and pubs, coached youth sports or handled matters before local judges.

Law blog posts from a local lawyer who can relate, who sends her kids to the same schools and gets involved in the same local political debates will naturally be more trusted than information from those who “parachute” in via the Internet to share legal information for their own gain.

The majority of Americans do not trust lawyers nor our justice system. We’re right with journalists, with about 33 percent of people trusting us.

But a survey found the majority of Americans would likely hire a lawyer they see using some form of social media. The reason is trust. We trust those “individuals” we see publishing online, especially locals.

Law blogs published by local lawyers represent an opportunity for lawyers to share trusted legal information. Those lawyers who do so will be more trusted, will be serving their town and will be hired.

Though many, if not most, law blogs are published by a group of lawyers at a law firm, blogs published by an individual lawyer may work better for developing business.

When I started blogging back in the stone age I thought of blogs as a conversation. One blogger expressing their thoughts and commentary, often referencing what another blogger posted, with other bloggers responding on their blog.

Blogs were very personality driven. That didn’t necessarily mean law bloggers were blogging about personal items or being ultra opinionated, it just meant the bloggers had a unique voice, tone or sense of humor that resonated with followers.

When law blogs started to take off about a decade ago, large law firms, with lawyers segmented by practice or industry groups, gravitated to group blogs for any number of reasons.

  • Budgets for marketing often followed groups versus individual lawyers.
  • Egos. In some cases, every lawyer in a practice group had to be listed as an author in the “About” section of the blog.
  • Law firms can be “firm brand” centric versus “individual brands.” One major firm drove a rainmaking lawyer out because he was developing too big of a brand with his individual blog being followed by general counsel and peer law firms.
  • Content. Law firms fear that an individual lawyer will not post often enough.
  • Rather than strategically focused on niches, law firms launched practice group blogs.

But pursuant to the latest GC Excellence Report, the reputation of the individual lawyer is the single most important factor for general counsel when deciding which law firm to use, ranking ahead of the firm’s reputation and well ahead of the firm’s brand.

A blogging lawyer can certainly enhance their reputation by publishing on a group blog, but it’s not as easy.

No question there are some great practice group and topic specific group law blogs, but when I go to rattle off the names of lawyers who have knocked it out of the park from a business development standpoint from blogging I tend to hit on those who did so with their own blogs.

Allison Rowe in equine law, Jeff Nowak on FMLA matters, Dan Schwartz on Connecticut employment law, Staci Riordan in fashion law, Peter Mahler on business dissolution and David Donoghue on IP litigation. These lawyers achieved outstanding reputations through blogging and generated significant business as a result.

Why might individual law blogs be more successful for business development?

  • Conversational style and tone. Not every individual law blog is written in a conversational style (as one would talk), buy more are. Readers are also apt to develop a comfort with the blogger’s tone.
  • Social media is critical for bloggers. Not just for distribution, but in further developing trust, relationships and a name. Sharing posts from your own blog tends to be more social and more personable in nature and draws more engagement.
  • Bloggers tend to get cited as much, if not more than, blogs. It tends to be how we cite things in the law, ie “per Professor XYX writing on…”
  • Bloggers tend to be remembered, by name, more than blogs. I’d guess that most of the readers of this blog or Robert Ambrogi’s blog, both fourteen years old, would not remember the names of our blogs if asked – if asked, they say it’s Kevin O’Keefe’s or Bob Ambrogi’s blog.
  • Individual bloggers getting a lot of invitations to speak. Speaking builds names and relationships.
  • The business of the law is all about relationships. It’s harder to build relationships when you head out as a publication, versus an an individual blogging lawyer.
  • Bloggers need attagirl’s and attaboy’s to keep going. The love you receive as an individual blogger tends to be greater.
  • People, including general counsel, hire lawyers, not law firms. Same goes with who people tend to follow, trust and enjoy.

Sure, there are any number of ways to make a group law blogs work for business development. A good number of firms have done so.

There’s just a number of reasons individual law blogs may be more successful — especially so in large firms, where general counsel value the reputation of individual lawyers above the firm’s brand and reputation.

WP Tavern’s Sarah Gooding reports that publishers are moving back to WordPress after short experiments with Medium, a free online publishing platform.

Medium’s original business model was two-fold, to serve as a platform for subscription based publications which would put up articles behind a paywall and to run native advertising (advertorials) in a publisher’s content.

In January of this year, the CEO and co-founder of Medium, Ev Williams announced that the company’s business model wasn’t working and laid off one third of the company. Though Medium remains live and provides a nice publishing interface, it’s yet to come up with a viable buisiness model.

Medium’s business model was never a good fit for publishing professionals, ala lawyers. Lawyers’ publications were hugely important to them in building name and relationships, but subscription and ad revenue was not what they were after.

What lawyers and legal professionals should make note of here is the risk publishers, including lawyers, run when not controlling their own publishing and publication. Publishing for free on something that feels good to start with can have problems down the road.

Gooding shared what Film School Rejects (FSR) founder Neil Miller had to say.

“What we were sold when we joined their platform is very different from what they’re offering as a way forward,” Miller told Poynter. “It’s almost as if Ev Williams wasn’t concerned that he was pulling out the rug from underneath publishers who had placed their trust in his vision for the future of journalism.”

After moving FSR back to WordPress, Miller said the partnership with Medium was great until the company changed course to become a different type of platform.

“As time went on, it became clear that Medium’s priorities had shifted from being a platform for independent publishers to being itself a publisher of premium, subscription-based content,” he said. “As we learned more about their future plans for the now-existent Medium ‘Members Only’ program, it became clear that our site wouldn’t be able to continue to operate the way we always had.”

Miller said the process of trying a new platform and returning to WordPress made him realize that he “missed some of the customizable features of WordPress,” which led his team to work on some new features they will be launching in the future. The site has reinstated its banner advertising on pages.

And, via Poynter, that Judd Legum, founder of ThinkProgres, one of the largest publications to make the move to Medium, believes Medium is no longer even being developed with publishers in mind.

“I’m certainly not eager to have a bunch of ads on the site — and we’re not going to,” Legum said. “I’d love to have none. And if it were possible, I’d be interested in figuring out a model where we don’t have to have any. But if it’s connected to a platform that’s not going to be developed with publishers in mind, it doesn’t really make sense to think through that as a platform. That sealed it for me.”

ThinkProgress is taking its 8 to 10 million unique pageviews per month back into the independent publishing space. It is the latest of several other publishers leaving Medium after having been persuaded in 2016 to jump into Ev Williams’ experiment with initial promises of free hosting, more traffic, and advertising money.

Not all of the larger sites Gooding found exiting Medium went to WordPress. One went to Vox Media and another is publishing as part of Wired.

Medium’s new subscription model with users paying five dollars a month to help out and receive some “premium content” is still in beta. But as Gooding concludes, “…[P]ublishers moving away from Medium are not willing to stay on for the the startup’s experiment at the expense of their writers and staff.”

As I have said before, I am not one to bet against Ev Williams, the co-founder of Blogger and Twitter. He’s done some great stuff in publishing.

But if you are a lawyer or other professional, you just need to control your own publishing platform. And when working with third parties, as you must to some extent, make sure their business model is alignment with your business model.

Facebook is a great place for publishing. Clean mobile interface, easy to key in content (even with my thumbs) and a built in audience for engagement.

There’s also no intimidation factor. When you open Facebook, free flow thinking is easy to get down “on paper.” With WordPress, it’s somehow a big deal. A blank screen makes you think that something more seminal needs to be published.

I am not talking personal versus professional. I regularly post professionally, that is matters relating to tech, publishing and business development, on Facebook. So much so that I often copy and paste posts from Facebook to my blog. This one I am penning on WordPress.

But I can’t blog on Facebook – for any number of reasons.

  1. I need to own and control my publishing. Facebook doesn’t allow this. If Facebook goes away or decides to change what can be viewed, my body of work goes away.
  2. My body of work is something that people should be able to access and review as part of sizing up who I am. As with a practicing lawyer, people should have the opportunity to see my interests, how I adresss issues and how I give back to the legal profession as a whole. I need the books and my pubications I authored — my blog — on the shelf. My blog gives me this. Not possible with Facebook.
  3. Google has become the world’s reference library. Relevant information from influential sources is available at your finger tips. Not with Facebook.

Dave Winer (@davewiner), the inventor of blogging who’s gone back and forth publishing on his blog, Scripting News, and Facebook over the last couple years (always leaving a record of his full post at his blog), is now back solely on his blog – for a whole lot of reasons, including the importance of the open web.

Winer also points out four features blogs have, which Facebook refuses to add.

  1. Links. How do you reference and advance discussion without citations, let alone how you engage those you are referencing in your writing.
  2. Simple styling.
  3. Enclosures for podcasting.
  4. Titles. We need to be able to charactertise that to which we are “permalinking” and to have a title to be indexed by Google.

To which I’ll add a few more.

  1. Images
  2. Graphs, charts — may be included in styling
  3. Custom features — this could get hairy, just as plugins do on a hosted WordPress platform. In the law, a blog platform requires a built-in “primary law citator” so that links to cases, codes and regs are available and linked to “open law.” Items such as multilevel editorial controls are also required by many legal publishers.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Facebook and will continue to post and engage there, it’s just not blogging.

What I need to get better at — again — is blogging on blogging software, which in my cases is LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform. Reflect and gather my thoughts on what I am reading, like this from Winer, and blog.

How many posts are needed to launch a law blog? One. And I’m serious.

Too many lawyers and law firms take all the fun out of blogging before they even get started by working on a series of blog posts before they take their law blog live.

You know how hard it is to sit down and pen four or five articles? It’s not fun — not even for three or four lawyers pooling their efforts.

A law blog is not like penning articles, a blog can be a lot of fun.

You get to put your thoughts and insight out there, live on the Internet. No matter what anyone says, sitting down at the keyboard and then pushing the publish button for the first time is an adrenalin rush. A little angst, but a lot of excitement.

When have you had the chance to take something live to the Internet before? And minutes after you penned your piece.

You want more blog posts? You’ll get them when someone has their pride on the line.

You publish a blog post and you have ownership. That’s you out there. You’ll be looking to add more posts, if for no other reason than ego and pride.

There is no way you’re going to generate that type of excitement for your second, third and fourth blog post when you’re penning them on a Word doc over a month’s time. That’s painful.

The only thing that sounds more painful is sitting in a conference room over lunch with lawyers and marketing professionals discussing the first blog post and the upcoming ones we’ll be doing before the blog goes live.

A law blog is something which enables a lawyer or group of lawyers to enter into an ongoing discussion in a niche area of the law or locale. A blog is not the definitive resource on a subject — especially on day one.

Starting a law blog is akin to saying I, or we, are going to start networking through the Internet in a way that builds our name and nurtures relationships. Like networking offline, you begin by just getting out and networking.

A columnist in a publication starts publishing by penning her first article. You need not see four articles before you decide whether her commentary is interesting or of value.

Blogs are unique in that the content is distributed virally. By emails, by sharing on LinkedIn, on Twitter and on Facebook. When you get your first post out there, no one is looking for the next three to hit them in the face, one after another.

You need not worry about someone coming at your blog after your first post and saying I would have subscribed to this blog if it just had three more posts. No authority here, only one post — too bad for that lawyer. C’mon.

Blogs grow on people. The first post, and even the next two, are not going to wow anyone.

Know that the smallest audience you will ever have on your blog will be when you launch your blog. One post is okay.

Those who come, and it will not be too many (you don’t publicize the launch of a blog), will be interested if you’re focusing on a niche, offering some insight beyond summaries of the law and write in a conversational tone.

View the first post, as it should be viewed, as a start.

As a lawyer you’ll not write in an embarrassing way, but you’ll blog poorly, but not forever. Practice, like with anything, will bring improvement. All the good law bloggers had to start somewhere.

Sure, proof that first post. I must have sat in the coffee shop for a couple hours with a printed draft of my first post. Other lawyers will have a spouse, child or colleague proof their posts.

If you’re itching to do that next post before you launch your blog, mark it draft on your publishing platform or set it to go live four or five days later.

I see far too many blogs with four to six posts, or more, on the day the blog launches and then one or two over the next two or three months. It looks lame, and a sign that the fun was taken out of law blogging before you ever got started.

Relax, as much as you can starting a blog, and have some fun.

New York VC and long time blogger, Fred Wilson is a big believer that blogging prepares you to speak well.

…If you have to speak publicly a lot, particularly in unscripted situations, I would suggest you write publicly regularly as well.


…Writing regularly makes it so much easier to speak publicly in unscripted situations.

Writing forces you to work out your views and articulate them clearly and concisely.

Then when you are asked a question related to those views, you have already worked out the answer.

It is in the brain, waiting there to come out crisply and concisely.

I couldn’t agree more.

Unlike many other speakers, I don’t script or overly prepare my talks.

I gather my thoughts on what I think would help and inspire the audience, outline my thoughts and reduce my outline to a deck, something I find a necessary evil for conference organizers.

After I hear others speak and get a feel of the conference, I’m prepared to share my thoughts in my talk.

The stories, ideas and what I’m thinking as I talk are all basically pulled from my blogging.

I don’t mean that I have gone back and read my blog in preparation, but that blogging represents my thinking over time. What’s between my ears is my blogging.

Like Fred, I’ve been writing (blogging or posting on Facebook) on near a daily basis for going on fourteen years. It’s a huge body of work and thinking. Not all of my writing is still relevant, but much is.

My views have evolved as well, but that’s okay. That helps me with context as a I talk to an audience.

As Fred says, blogging and speaking “work incredibly well together.”