Yesterday, our tech and products team greenlighted our going to market with a new product for the syndication of legal blog posts from the LexBlog news and commentary platform.

If this were a story from a business school textbook or a large company, I might share how we studied the market, looked at production costs, analyzed pricing and surveyed potential customers.

But I don’t believe that takes place in small entrepreneurial companies. I know it doesn’t take place at LexBlog.

This product came about from a dinner conversation at a conference with someone I had never met before. 

After social conversation, he shared a challenge he was having. He wasn’t sure that he and his organization were taking the right approach. When he asked my opinion we got into a discussion of what if it did this or that? A half hour later he said let’s continue the conversation. 

I had worked with organizations like theirs. We had done similar projects where the goals for the organization were similar. I had been stewing about a product that could do what we discussed. The product was something that I considered for a long time as an offshoot of the LexBlog news platform. I had a feel for how to price it. 

So there was “something there” in my mind. 

I get back to Seattle and, as usual, I’m all ginned up about this new product that we ought to be able to deliver in two or three months. Easy for me to say in that I don’t have to build something (leveraging our existing technology and platform) in a way that it will scale, prepare educational documents, price it right, support it, and be able to deliver it time and again.

Rightfully so, LexBlog tech and products wanted to clearly understand the goals, what’s the definition of success for us and our customer, what features would it need to include, what other customers might demand and more.

Products also went out and met with this potential first customer and their team. Wise move to nurture relationships among folks who were going to work on and deploy a first of its kind solution. We picked up some required features we would have missed from team members of the potential customer who were not in earlier discussions.

Then we had some “interesting” meetings in Seattle about how to do the development, how it would affect our product roadmap, and when we (I) could have this product to sell.

No matter how frustrated I may get at times, I have great teammates on the products, tech and operations side. They worked on this (and me) for months in order to come up with a deliverable and the timing for it.

Yesterday that green light came and it was pretty darn exciting. I was on the phone to two organizations telling them – one, I’m sorry that I couldn’t deliver as fast as I first thought and two, that we’re ready to move forward.

We’re not totally out of the woods yet. I know from experience with my team that this product will perform well and have tremendous customer support.

We just need to go through the project cycle to document processes, identify potential tech issues, work through education and support materials, and I am sure eighteen other things that I would glance over.

But from a dinner in January to a product we’re moving to market in November, that’s how a legal tech product gets developed at LexBlog.

There ought to be a place announcing new legal blogs — and it makes all the sense in the world that it be LexBlog.

I am not talking about blogs thrown up on websites as a means of improving SEO, often with ghostwritten content. 

I am referring to blogs written in a real and authentic way by someone with an interest in a subject and/or locale. Someone using their blog to learn, to share their insight with others, to report on the unreported, to network, to advance the law and, at the day, to grow their influence.

You don’t need to worry about SEO and getting found if you blog this way. You’ll get found on search and in 85 other ways that are equally as important.

What would be announced?

  • Name of the blog
  • What the blog covers
  • Who publishes the blog
  • Why the blogger is publishing the blog – what’s their angle or interest 
  • Name of their organization, ie, law school, law firm, association, company 

Why announce legal blogs?

  • Shot in the arm to the new blogger. When you start a blog you are blogging to an audience of one. A call out from a place like LexBlog with likely follow on welcomes and congrats from others that saw the announcement would be good inspiration.
  • Help build our worldwide community of legal bloggers. The community is loose knit now, to say the least. Announcing new bloggers and blogs would foster relationships based on common interests and locales and grow the community and “sub-communities” of which LexBlog acts as a hub.
  • Discovery of new blogs for witch to subscribe. Announcing new bloggers each week would be widely followed by legal bloggers, worldwide, as well as other legal professionals. They would subscribe to new blogs of interest via RSS and email updates. 
  • Get more legal professionals blogging. Blogging is not hard and it’s certainly not what many people think it is. Seeing other legal professionals starting to blog will inspire others to start – and even give “wannabe” bloggers people to call and ask, “what’s this all about? How did you get started?”
  • Shows the topics and locales being covered. That’ll inspire legal professionals to see openings for them. 

How do we get this done? It shouldn’t be hard, but there are some hurdles. Though Harvard Innovation Lab’s Caselaw Access Project which digitized 40 million pages of case law makes any hurdles we have seem trivial.

We need to know of the new blogs. The onus is on us at LexBlog first, not the new bloggers.

LexBlog needs to feel and actually be the center of the universe for all legal blogs – the platform of record for indexing and syndicating all legal blog content, if you will.

We’ve starting work on this by opening LexBlog’s legal news and commentary platform to all legal blogs, no matter whether they are running on our publishing solution or not.

We now need to go get all existing legitimate law blogs on the platform. Firm by firm, lawyer by lawyer and blog by blog. Passion and persistence on our part.

We need to start sharing on a regular basis the new legal blogs on LexBlog. They may not be new bloggers, but it’ll help existing legal bloggers recognize LexBlog’s stature and motivate them to register their blog with LexBlog.

And, of course we need to start energizing LexBlog, as a news and commentary site, by harnessing the passion, ideas and drive of  journalists.

It wasn’t that long ago — okay, 14 years, — when I singled out new blogs. Bob Ambrogi and Carolyn Elefant did the same with a law blog round for ALM and the ABA Journal Journal did their part by indexing legal blogs.

But legal blogging has come of age. 17,000 legal professionals are publishing on the LexBlog platform alone, tens of thousands elsewhere, and 4,500 legal blogs in the States alone.

Time to start bringing this community of legal bloggers together and doing something as polite as announcing new legal bloggers.

Apple News, unlike Facebook and Google which use AI and algorithms to curate the news for readers, does things the old fashioned way – with humans selecting the news.

If you’ve been following along, you know that LexBlog is creating the largest legal news and commentary network by curating the valuable contributions of legal bloggers, worldwide. 

Right now, we’re featuring stories on the “front page,” changing things out a couple times a day. Channel pages are created dynamically. We have plenty of room for improvement, but it’s a start.

The New York Times’ Jack Nicas detailed in last Sunday’s paper Apple News’ approach of humans over machines. 

One morning in late August, Apple News’s editor in chief, Lauren Kern, huddled with a deputy to discuss the five stories to feature atop the company’s three-year-old news app, which comes preinstalled on every iPhone in the United States, Britain and Australia.

National news sites were leading that day with stories that the Justice Department had backed an affirmative-action lawsuit against Harvard University — a good proxy that the story mattered, said Ms. Kern’s deputy, a former editor for The New York Times whom Apple requested not be named for privacy reasons. He and Ms. Kern quickly agreed that it was the day’s top news, and after reading through a few versions, selected The Washington Post’s report because, they said, it provided the most context and explanation on why the news mattered.

…Ms. Kern said her team aimed to mix the day’s top stories with lighter features and sometimes longer investigations, much like the front page of a newspaper. They largely chose from a list of contenders compiled that morning by three editors in New York who pored over the home pages and mobile alerts of national news sites, as well as dozens of pitches from public

This curation by Apple News has transformed Apple into a powerful news publisher and, per Nicas, transformed Kern, a former journalist, into one the most powerful figures in media. The stories she and her team select regularly receive more than a million visits each.

Apple pulls in news from traditional publishers and, just like LexBlog, pulls in RSS feeds from sources across the Web.

Kern and her team of 30 former journalists in Australia, Europe and the U.S. consume the news through out the day and decide which stories get the top spot.

Ultimately, they select five stories to lead the app, with the top two also displayed in a prominent window to the left of the iPhone home screen. They also curate a magazine-style section of feature stories. The lineup typically shifts five or more times a day, depending on the news. A single editor in London typically chooses the first mix of stories for the East Coast’s morning commute before editors in New York and then Cupertino step in.

LexBlog is now aggregating legal blog posts from close to 20,000 legal bloggers, up about 2,000 bloggers in the two months since we opened the network to bloggers not publishing on LexBlog’s publishing platform.

The posts generated from our data base of blogs published on our platform and RSS feeds from “non-platform” blogs generate anywhere from 150 to 200 stories a day. 

Even with a four or five fold increase in bloggers, journalists employed by LexBlog along with channel leaders from within the blogging community could well maintain human editing of the network. 

Apple News believes it is a lifeline for for journalism. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook sees Apple as having a responsility to help the news industry. “It’s fundamental to democracy.”

LexBlog sees legal blogs as central to increasing access to legal services. Insight and commentary from practicing lawyers not only means more information freely available, but also opens new lines of communicaton  and trust between people and lawyers.

A legal blog news network gives lawyers and the public at large greater access to legal information. For legal bloggers they receive support as well as a shot in the arm from having ther stories highlighted among the best and the brightest, worldwide. 

Traditional legal publishing in the form of law reviews, legal periodicals, treatises and the like continues to slide. At the same time, blogs, much more niche focused and mostly written by practicing  authorities, continue to grow.

A legal blog network supported by a publishing platform, as needed by individual bloggers, can be a lifeline for not only legal information, but also in increasing access to legal services.

And like Apple News, it would seem daily legal news could aggegrated from disparate source and then curated — by real people.

I am off to Boston for the College of Law Practice Management (COLPM) event on Friday evening, the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Conference on Thursday and Friday and to meet with a few Boston folks before heading home on Saturday – hopefully before the nor’easter they’re predicting to hit Boston this weekend.

I don’t know much about COLPM, other than folks appear to like to dress up in Tuxedos and fine dresses for pictures to be shared on social media. I’ll confess I turned my tuxedo in after my wedding thirty-sum years ago.

Seriously though, I was asked to join COLPM by my friend and long standing LexBlog customer, Patrick Lamb, who is one of the real forces in innovation and change in the delivery of legal services. When Pat says COLPM members can be agents of change in the business of the law, I am all ears.

In addition COLPM members include some real fine people, many I know and others I’ll have the privilege of getting to know. Their Futures Conference on Thursday will involve some talented professionals presenting and discussing cybersecurity in large law and corporations.

LMA is really taking things to a new level for its members and members of the legal marketing/business development professionals as a whole

Regional topic specific conferences provide outstanding educational opportunities as well as an opportunity for passionate, experienced and caring professionals to raise their profiles through presenting.

Legal marketing professionals may have been perceived by many law firms as not integral to the executive leadership, but no longer.

The business of law and the manner in which legal services are delivered are rapidly changing. Marketers and business development professionals, which by their nature are looking outward, are key to stragetic planning for law firms.

LMA plays a key role in educating legal marketing professionals in what they need to know in playing leadership roles and how to navigate what can only described as dysfunctional management structures at many law firms.

Legal marketing is also not an easy field and change at firms effecting one’s position and employment can happen in a minute. Building a name and relationships through present and networking at the growing number of LMA events is important.

Bottom line, for LexBlog and I, it’s all about relationships in the legal business, and any business. Getting to Boston gives me the ability to spend time with friends in the industry and to make new friends.

It’s the relationships with friends in the business which empowers LexBlog in evangelizing the importance of improving access to legal services through blogging and in recruiting law firm members to our growing global legal blogging community.

Though paying for a room during the World Series ate into into my budget for buying beers and dinners for folks.

Please do let me know if you are in Boston and would like to get together to talk busines or for for pleasure. You van email me at kevin@lexblog.com, text/call me at 206-321-3627 or reach me on social media.  

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.

Last week we shared the word with our clients and yesterday with bloggers, and other members of the press, that LexBlog has launched a global legal news and commentary network.

Today, it’s time to share the word with you. Especially with those of you blogging, without whom this news would not be possible.

The network, running on the LexBlog.com site, is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, global news and commentary network, delivering timely and targeted articles from legal bloggers throughout the world. Any legal blogger, worldwide, is invited to add a feed to the network, and any reader is free to access the network, with no subscription or payment required.

You need not be a user/customer of LexBlog’s publishing platform to have you and your blog included for free. LexBlog customers will automatically be included. “Non-customers” just need to go to the “Join” page on LexBlog.

Some 19,000 legal bloggers already participate in the network, which features both curated and real-time posts from lawyers, law professors, law librarians, law students, legal-industry executives, legal marketers, legal consultants, legal technologists and others, providing news, insights and analysis on virtually every legal and practice topic.

Powering the network is LexBlog’s custom-built aggregation and syndication engine that allows the platform to aggregate blog content from any source, regardless of whether the blog is hosted by LexBlog on its own blogging platform or externally on any other blogging platform — as well as syndicate the content, as relevant, to syndication partners.

Big kudos to Jared, Scott, Angelo, Brian and Josh for doing the heavy lifting on the design, development and tech side for something we’ve envisioned for a long time.

As my colleague and LexBlog’s publisher and editor-in-chief, Bob Ambrogi says:

The wealth of original writing and reporting from legal blogs is staggering. For legal professionals, there is immeasurable value in having unlimited access to timely articles targeted to their practices and interests.

Ambrogi’s right. We’re also seeing legal news sites reducing coverage because of reduced revenues and erecting paywalls in an attempt to get subscription money for copy that is less valuable than that coming from legal blogs.

Legal bloggers are the citizen journalists of law and our network is bringing their work to the readers who will most benefit from it – legal professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, small business people and  consumers.

The network includes:

  • Featured articles curated by LexBlog editors throughout the day.
  • Real-time feeds of all articles from member blogs across the world.
  • Real-time feeds of targeted articles arranged by legal channels.
  • RSS and email subscriptions to channel and blog updates.
  • Profiles of each blogger, including the blogs to which they contribute and their recent posts.
  • Profiles of the law firms and institutions that publish blogs, including all the blogs they support, all their blog authors, and the recent posts from across all their blogs.

Content published through the platform receives additional exposure through publication to the Fastcase legal research service and through upcoming bar association publishing portals.

As Ambrogi says, this is just the first phase of the new LexBlog.com. Future plans include greater curation of channel pages, expanded original content and coverage, and special-focus publications. In addition, LexBlog will license and deploy its syndication and aggregation platform to law firms, bar associations, law schools and other organizations to power their own custom publishing.

What started out of a garage with one blogger – me – LexBlog is now the hub that brings together many of the best legal minds on the web. Humbling, to put it mildly.

Want to join our cause or know someone who would want to, I am looking for one ambitious and passionate associate editor, to have the time of their life in helping build this one of kind network. Journalism isn’t struggling at LexBlog, the intersection of blogging, technology and the law is going to make for something special – to serve lawyers and the people we serve.

I work with a wonderful team at LexBlog – caring, passionate and cause driven professionals.

This year, a legal publishing and reporting legend (and my good friend), Bob Ambrogi joined us as Editor-in-Chief and Publisher to help build a first-of-its-kind legal news and commentary site built on a foundation of legal blog content from throughout the world.

LexBlog is seeking a highly motivated associate editor to help build this site. The associate editor will be an integral part of launching and expanding the LexBlog network and helping to build new products and services associated with it.

The associate editor will help in developing and managing all aspects of the LexBlog network’s editorial content and social media. This will include curating the best and most newsworthy content from a wide-ranging network of bloggers, recruiting new blogs to join the network, developing original content and authors, developing new publications and products, developing new content partners and partnerships, and engaging with the community of authors and readers through social media.

The ideal candidate will be a self-starter who is entrepreneurial, strategic and creative. You should have a strong interest in law and understanding of legal concepts. A law degree or experience in law is a plus. You should also be a careful editor with meticulous attention to detail. Journalism experience is helpful.

In addition to working on the LexBlog network, the associate editor will assist in related tasks, such as helping to manage social media and collaborating with LexBlog’s Success, Business Development and Engagement teams as needed.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Helping to imagine and build the LexBlog network. You will be on the ground floor of a first-of-its kind project helping to drive its future.
  • Daily curation of LexBlog.com. You will be part of an editorial team responsible for updating LexBlog.com throughout the day by selecting and highlighting posts to feature.
  • Keeping abreast of legal news and trends in order to keep LexBlog.com timely and responsive.
  • Recruiting new blogs to the network and developing familiarity with member blogs.
  • Writing original stories as assigned or as appropriate.
  • Helping to run LexBlog.com’s social media.
  • Helping to coordinate coverage of legal conferences and events, providing social recaps and other necessary materials.
  • Conceptualizing and developing new editorial products and enhancements to existing products.

To qualify, you should have:

  • Experience in writing, reporting and blogging, with a background in journalism or comparable field.Experience in law — either as a journalist or legal professional — and understanding of legal concepts.
  • The ability to be a self-starter and self-sufficient.
  • A high level of creativity, both in day-to-day tasks and larger objectives.
  • Strong writing and editing skills.
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills with the ability to manage multiple stories, projects and tasks.

You will own this role if:

  • You like having fun
  • You like growing
  • Have a ton of energy
  • Have a passion for blogging and other social media
  • You are organized and systematic to a fault
  • You like people and enjoy meeting new people
  • You know done is better than perfect
  • You do what it takes

About LexBlog

Founded in 2004 to empower lawyers to increase their visibility and accelerate their business relationships through blogging, LexBlog is the hub that brings together many of the best legal minds on the web. Its publishing platform, offered as software as a service (SaaS), powers more than 17,000 legal bloggers and over half of the nearly 1,500 blogs published by the 200 largest U.S. law firms. By expanding LexBlog to blogs not published on its platform, LexBlog is building the largest and most comprehensive legal news and information network in the world.

We believe in hiring PhD’s (poor, hungry and driven). As Mario Gabelli said, “We’re not talking about people being poor economically. We’re talking about being poor in terms of knowledge, about people who are constantly searching to learn more, to find more wisdom. And hungry in this context refers to those with a tremendous desire to succeed, people who won’t ever be satisfied with an ordinary level of accomplishment. And driven people are the ones who set ambitious goals and then pursue them with real ferocity.”

Email me or jobs@lexblog.com.

Are you a law blogger in Houston? Or a Texas law blogger who will be in Houston for the bar’s annual meeting. It would be my honor to tell your story.

I’ll be in Houston from Wednesday evening through late Friday afternoon. I’d welcome meeting for coffee or a pint for a Facebook Live Interview.

Nothing daunting. Nothing to prepare for. I’m just interesting in how you got started blogging, how it has gone for you, what blogging has meant to you and what you’ve learned along the way. Maybe learn a little about you and what you do as a lawyer.

I find the stories inspiring and so do other lawyers out there blogging or considering blogging.

Text/call my cell phone (206-321-3627) or email me.

Thanks and please spread the word, Houstonian – and Texans.

Why don’t more small legal tech companies use bank loans to fund their companies? Most are chasing angel and venture capital when funding may be down the street.

I was over to LexBlog’s bank this afternoon for what feels like an annual checkup. I am happy to report, all good, the bank was impressed with the bottom line from last year. I asked that they come over and tell Mrs. RL.

We do a line of credit with our bank that was turned into a term loan a few years ago that’s renewed annually. We pay interest monthly and make regular principal payments throughout the year to reduce the balance.

I have always liked banks. Straight talking and down to earth people who are in business to make loans to business people. Today, the home loans are gone to the large aggregators of home loan lenders it seems.

Small banks matter. I sat down with the CEO, in addition to our loan officer, today. Our bank is a $100 million bank, not a $900 billion one, like Wells Fargo.

Why small bank loans for legal tech companies?

  • Keeps you focused on business (producing and selling), not raising capital.
  • Keeps you lean and mean. You’ll not spend money on things you don’t need – you won’t have the money.
  • Keeps you focused on developing cash flow. Banks need to see you can cash flow payments on a loan. They cannot lend on collateral or a guaranty alone. Until you get cash flow, or least a forecast of cash flow based on a history of revenue, ie growing subscription revenue, scrape buy. Don’t quit your job. Or as one lawyer I know did, work in large law for a number of years and save what you can. He has accumulated enough savings to survive for two to three years in his new venture.
  • You learn to build a small business. Venture capital companies may call it a “lifestyle company,” but a small company doing millions a year and feeding twenty to thirty families is something to be proud of. It’s the stuff that this country is made of.
  • You have a ready source of capital for hiring or small acquisitions.
  • It’s cheap. You’ll pay as little as three to four percent interest.
  • You build a real relationship with real people in the banking industry. You are going to want those relationships over your business lifetime.
  • Many lawyers have a history of working with small banks for working capital or the funding of cases. Borrowing from banks is in your comfort zone.

You’ll need to collateralize the loan. For most people, that’s a second mortgage on the house or condo. That can eliminate folks without real estate. You may need turn to a guarantor.

The amount you are borrowing needn’t be a large sum, it probably should not be. It could be $50,000 to $200,000. In today’s world, with open source solutions, cheap hosting, people working on contract and the like, such sums can go a long way.

I get to a fair number of legal tech conferences. Good people with decent ideas sound like they are in the HBO show, Silicon Valley, rather than in real life when it comes to funding companies. Rather than talking like you are in the funny papers of tech startups, why not just build a business with funding down the street?

Swing on over to the LexBlog website and you’ll see that our marketing website has been replaced by the contributions from law bloggers from around the world.

Gone are highly profiled slogans, packages of services, testimonials, profiles of team members, our values and the history of the company. All of things we’ve come to expect of corporate websites.

In their place, insight and contributions from legal professionals. Blog posts representing a conversation – what legal professionals have read, oberserved or heard and their accompanying engagement.

As my COO, Garry Vander Voort says, we’re not so much about what we say we are, we are about our bloggers. Legal professionals who are blogging tell our story.

Almost twenty years ago the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto wrote that markets are conversations.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter, …and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

LexBlog has always been about conversations. Rather than advertisements, email marketing, brochures and conference booths,  we’ve, or perhaps I should say I have blogged to grow our company,

There’s nothing wrong with traditional marketing, it just wasn’t LexBlog.

Truth be told, when sitting in my garage starting LexBlog, I asked myself how the heck was anyone going to hear about my company. The minute I thought about buying an ad in a publication such as the ABA Journal, I said “What I am thinking, I need to put my money where my mouth is, I need to blog to grow my business.”

I read about blogging, digital media (as we called it then), the Internet and legal marketing. I blogged what I read, offering my take. What it meant, how I disagreed and how I agreed.

I met people along the way. I came to realize that Winer, Searls, Weinberger and the other signatories to the Cluetrain, were right. Markets are conversations — or as I described it, marketing is a conversation. By engaging others in a real and authentic fashion you built a name and a business.

I came to strongly agree with Cluetrain.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

We’ve had a website for almost fourteen years. But from now on we’ll be known by legal bloggers. Bloggers publishing on LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform and now, bloggers publishing on their own platforms.

We’ll focus on curating the best in legal blogging from around the world. Where there are gaps in the network, we’ll recruit bloggers.

The current LexBlog site is just a start, admittedly a rough start. Our editor-in-chief and publisher, Bob Ambrogi just joined LexBlog this last week. He is already working with the team on improvements to the site. Our tech and products team will be developing a new solution for the curation of legal blogs that we’ll use for the site later this year.

What we do know is that The New York Times wouldn’t have a front page marketing packages for advertsing and subscribing. The Times leads with stories by talented reporters. Like the Times and other news and information sites, LexBlog will lead with stories from talented legal bloggers.

We’ll of course communicate with the outside world, sometimes using the mediums used by other companies. But we’ll not forget the theses of the Cluetrain, the first ten of which are below.

  1. Markets are conversations.
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.
  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.
  8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.
  9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.
  10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

To the conversation — and legal bloggers.