Legal tech and innovation conferences universally bill themselves as bringing the best and brightest together to discuss and advance innovation and technology.

Some say their conference will break down the silos and build connections across a fragmented industry, where everyone across the country and the world is well intentioned, but not collaborating.

Others say they’ll bring together the industry’s leaders, innovators and peers to collaborate so as to bring greater access to legal services.

All good, but only a tiny fraction of the industry’s leaders attend. And don’t get me started on the “leaders,” who with their public relations people, pay to be included on a panel or two.

When I have contacted legal tech and innovation conferences this year, I don’t recall any being live streamed. One was, but they were charging (I got free access as widely followed on social media, others did not).

If the conferences truly believed in their mission to advance legal innovation and technology — and to bring the industry leaders together for greater collaboration, they’d live stream their event and make it available for free.

Live streaming is not one of those things that you throw off till next year because of the complications. Live stream via an iPhone and iPad on Facebook Live – for free. It’s not hard.

Most conferences have an expensive recording crew manning expensive recording equipment for videos that will or may be available later on. When is later on? Do hundreds of industry leaders who did not attend call, and presumably pay, for videos a month or two after the conference?

I was at an Avvo confernce in 2017 attended by 700 pepople that was live streamed to the world via Facebook Live by one person using an app call Switcherstudio. I believe he used a couple iPads and an iPhone so he could do split shots and zoom in on slides.

Your Facebook Live video would be posted immediately after its live presentation. You can also “pull” it from Facebook and publish it to YouTube. The YouTube embed will allow you to have the session videos on your site by the end of the day.

You want to go really wild, you spend a hundred and fifty bucks and you get all the videos transcribed with the transcripts posted to your site by the next day.

Ideas, minds and innovation live far beyond the four walls of a conference center or hotel ballroom. Why wouldn’t you want to include those minds? Why wouldn’t you want instant collaboration with those minds via social media.

Open things live online and you’ll attract the thinking of those not viewed as “the leaders” and those who don’t have the money for flights and hotel rooms.

You open up thinking to those world-wide. The legal tech and innovation community in the U.S., other than those selling products overseas, is pretty myopic. The U.S. is a small place when talking tech. Live stream and you’ll get people watching and participating from around the world.

If you’re thinking that you can’t live-stream for free as it will cost you paying attendees, that’s plain dumb. If anything your conference will be talked about more ahead of time and afterwards, only increasing attendance in year one and subsequent years.

If you’re an association such as a bar assoction or other network where propfessionals pay dues, you owe it to members to live stream. You’ll also make yourselves more relevant.

Most importantly, we have a lot at stake here. 85% of people in the U.S. alone have no access to the delivery of legal services. And it’s not all about costs. It’s more about getting a functioning legal system out where people are – online and using innovative technology.

Presuming that by throwing “leaders” into conference rooms and having them go out for dinner and drinks (I enjoy it as much as anyone) is the fastest way to cross the chasm on the delivery of legal services is a little short-sighted. We need all hands on deck in an easy and effective way. Live streaming helps do that.

If you’re having a legal tech and innnovation conference, you, more than anyone, need to demonstrate your grasp of technology and innovation. You need to be liive streaming via Facebook Live.

This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of WordPress.

What started with the release of open source publishing software by Matt Mullenweg, then a freshman at the University of Houston, and a friend has grown to power over 30% of the top sites on the web.

Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg are known by nearly all for their disruption. But Mullenweg, with WordPress, is right with them.

Fifteen years ago ago, I was six months away from toying around with web publishing (blogging) in my garage. The concept of publishing to the web by everyone had been realized by few back then.

Little off the shelf publishing web software was available. Heck, I’m not sure many folks could see why they would even need it.

Few people were publishing blogs, mainstream publishers kept their monopoly with expensive proprietary publishing software and marketers and public relations agencies had yet to coin the phrase “content marketing” to save their jobs.

A short fifteen years later and Mullenweg’s original goal has been reached, publishing has been democratized. There’s other publishing software, much proprietary, but without WordPress, digital publishing, the heart of how we publish today, would not be at the disposal pf everyone.

WordPress powers 30% of all Websites in the world. WordPress powers 70% of all websites with a “content management solution” – that’s sites that are publishing.

No matter how you cut, that is extraordinary growth. Start from zero and run 70% of all web publishing in fifteen years.

Did Bill Gates and ‘Word’ close on “WordPerfect” word processing software that fast?

We’re going to see the day when WordPress is ubiquitous. When virtually all web publishing will be run on WordPress. Those who doubt it think back to those saying WordPerfect was better.

I may not have started LexBlog on WordPress but we’d not be empowering legal professionals, students and legal tech companies to shape the future of legal reporting and publishing without it.

LexBlog is but a drop in the WordPress bucket. Per Mullenweg:

There’s so much: A group of high school students bands together to build a national movement on WordPress; a president builds the foundation for his own next chapter on WordPress; the current WhiteHouse.gov switches over; or when someone like Hajj Flemings brings thousands of small businesses onto the open web for the first time, with WordPress.

And the key to it all is open source. WordPress, the legal profession and the web would not where it is today without Mullenweg’s and WordPress’ commitment to open source development.

Many in the open source world are like Moses in that they speak of the Promised Land but will never set foot there. If I spend the rest of my life working and we don’t reach almost all websites being powered by open source and the web being substantially open, I will die content because I already see younger generations picking up the banner.

LexBlog has the best WordPress development team anywhere upgrading and adding features to our core product. New aggregation and syndication products are being developed on WordPress. We’re being challenged by bar associations to develop a do it yourself website solution to sit on our WordPress platform.

All on WordPress and the best may be yet to come from WordPress’ Gutenberg release later this year.

Thanks for fifteen years, Matt. Here’s to the next fifteen.

LexBlog, via the law bloggers it supports worldwide, has become one of the largest legal news and information networks.

We support these bloggers with a digital design and publishing platform we developed on a WordPress core.

Developing the platform was the only way we could scale our offering. Without the platform, we could not provide each blogger/publication regular upgrades and feature enhancements, let alone support all of these publishers with our success team.

Our platform is not limited to a blog site user interface. The platform can present interfaces for websites, mini-sites, magazines, content portals and what have you.

Knowing this, organizations have approached LexBlog asking if they could license our platform for their members and customers. We’re in the process of doing so.

In discussions with these folks, I started thinking that LexBlog was basically offering a SaaS solution for digital design and publishing. Organizations, or end publishers directly via a do it yourself (DIY) blog, website etc, receive web design and publishing software cloud hosted and supported by LexBlog.

Pulling up the Wikipedia definition of a SaaS solution, what are doing seemed pretty close.

Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”, and was formerly referred to as “software plus services” by Microsoft. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including office software, messaging software, payroll processing software, DBMS software, management software, CAD software, development software, gamification, virtualization, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), Management Information Systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), talent acquisition, learning management systems, content management (CM), and service desk management. SaaS has been incorporated into the strategy of nearly all leading enterprise software companies.

The term “Software as a Service” (SaaS) is considered to be part of the nomenclature of cloud computing, along with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS), managed software as a service (MSaaS), mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), and information technology management as a service (ITMaaS).

Wow, that’s a mouthful, but you get the point.

Calling things “as a service” can be helpful to understand an offering.

LexBlog’s entire team is in WeWork, which has been characterized as “offices as a service.” Rather than rent and set up offices with everything you need, WeWork provides you everything you need, and more, in a hosted environment for a monthly subscription.

What do you think? Is it helpful to describe LexBlog’s offering as a SaaS solution for digital design and publishing? Does it matter?

“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.

The transition to a new world is the hands of the old.

This from author, consultant and speaker, Euan Semple addressing the biggest challenge to digital transformation.

Those who can bring themselves to use the phrase “Digital Transformation” are invariably those who least understand, or would like, its implications.

The true transformation of a digital culture is in behaviours and interactions between people. It is in the ability to more directly connect with each other in the workplace, to reduce unnecessary steps and overheads, and to be able to adapt and respond to challenges more quickly. All of this threatens the status quo and the authority of many of the gatekeepers who have, until now, been deemed necessary.

Reading Euan’s post, I couldn’t help but think of the roadblock to the adoption of legal technology and innovation across the legal industry. Whether it’s law firms, bar associations, or even legal technology associations, the transformation to digital, the use of technology, social media, and efficient solutions is often in the hands of the old guard.

Law firms can’t do this or that when it comes to the use of the Internet for networking to build trust, learn and engage people.

  • We cannot have a lawyer post blog posts without them being reviewed by someone senior.
  • We cannot have lawyers post their posts directly to the publishing platform directly, marketing needs to do that for them.
  • We cannot have lawyers using their personal Facebook accounts to engage clients, referral sources, business colleagues and others.
  • We don’t have lawyers posting their blog posts to the lawyer’s LinkedIn accounts so as to engage those who may comment on or like the post, our marketing people control that.
  • We don’t have lawyers with personal Twitter accounts for following news, engaging influencers or sharing posts, we have one account for the blog on which a lawyer is an author.

If not directly mandated by the old guard, such limitations come because the old guard does not understand how the Internet works for learning, engaging people, building trust and business development. Those below fear taking a stand.

The vast majority of people in this country have no access to legal services. Yet bar associations adopt ethics rules to stifle innovation and efficiency brought by legal technology companies to improve access to legal services in the name that consumers need to be protected.

Very few law firms have adopted technology solutions and processes in the delivery of legal services. The old guard, understandably, wants to use billable hours in charging for services, charges that would be eroded by improving the delivery of legal services.

Bar associations, legal technology associations and legal technology conferences are often led by executive directors and boards that do not use the most powerful tool they have at their disposal – the Internet – to engage their constituents, the influencers of their audience, the public and the media.

Rather than use the Twitter, Facebook and blogging to listen, to connect and lead change, these folks wear it as a badge of honor that they have no time for such interaction, let alone learn what’s about.

  • I wish I had the time that the associate general counsel of a $100 billion company, a law school dean and a practicing lawyer has to use twitter, but I have a full time job.
  • It’s not up to me as executive director of a bar association to use social media to connect with members who are leaving my association in spades.
  • I don’t feel comfortable using Facebook like managing partners, other law firm executives, and legal company CEO’s do.
  • It’s not my responsibility as a board member of a legal technology association “leading change” and running conferences to stay abreast of relevant online discussion or to engage constituents through the net.

Sure law firms, bar associations, legal technology associations and traditional legal publishers will talk technology and innovation. Publications and conferences are abuzz with the topics. But do they want transformation.

…[M]ost organisations want tinkering rather than transformation. They would rather rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic than face the true challenges of “Digital.” They find it easier to digitise their dysfunctions than to face up to them.

This is human nature.

The brave will try harder

Well said, Euan.

I received an email this afternoon from Edwin Khodabakchian (@edwk), the founder of Feedly. He relayed that together, we’ve read 1.2 billion articles on Feedly this past year.

Feedly is a news aggregator, and by far the most popular one that I know of. By news aggregator I mean an application that runs as a mobile app or on a desktop browser that pulls in and organizes the news and information you want to see.

Blogs, columns, mainstream news reports, you name it. You can subscribe by source (ie, abovethelaw.com) and get all the stories from the source or subscribe by subject (FMLA) and get all the stories from influential sources reporting on a subject ala FMLA.

Using feedly is a huge plus. As Khodabakchian wrote:

Some of us connected to thought leaders or found new favorite blogs, while others learned new skills or searched for deeper insights into changing industries. We are all united, however, in the belief that reading makes us smarter.

I’d be lost without Feedly. It’s how I stay abreast of news, insight and developments. You can try to stay on top of the marketplace, trends and competitive landscape without a news aggregator, but I don’t have that much time. I’m also not dumb enough to believe that I’d  see what Feedly delivers to me.

Feedly is also how I network online so as to build relationships and, hopefully, a better name for myself. I share, with my commentary, what I read on Feedly onto Twitter, Facebook and my blog. Engagement ensues.

After all, content, whether your own or someone else’s, is not the end goal. Content is the currency for engagement and resulting relationships.

Per Khodabakchian, Feedly also got smarter in 2017.

You can now annotate and save essential articles, filter out noise, disseminate critical insights, and re-organize your feeds.

I just spent some time reorganizing my “feeds,” which I organize in folders, moving the things I most want to see towards the top. Items that open business opportunities as well as open doors to support law schools and access to legal services.

Feedly is essential for anyone who is looking to stay up to speed in their field and looking to develop business through the Internet.

What are you waiting for? 1.2 billion served just this year alone.

When Amazon built a digital department store, then competitor, Toys “R” Us licensed Amazon’s technology for the online sales of its goods. Toys “R” Us could not compete on software.

When Amazon had surplus cloud hosting capacity, Amazon created AWS for the licensing of its cloud hosting services to third parties. AWS now represents over a third of Amazon’s revenue.

When Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, the Post, at the encouragement of Bezos to follow the AWS model, built a digital publishing platform the Post could license to third parties.

Arc Publishing, the name of the Post’s publishing platform, is now licensed to news publishers as large as Tronc, the owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun. Ironically, Tronc had claimed that its technology prowess would allow it to succeed whether other news publishers failed.

It’s a nice model, develop the software platform you need to succeed and license your technology to third parties whose services exceed the scope of yours. The Washington Post does not cover Chicago and LA news. Amazon does not provide near as many services as are being delivered by companies using its AWS cloud service.

Reading Jack Marshall’s Wall Street Journal story on Tronc’s licensing Arc, I was struck by how LexBlog’s model mirrors the Post’s — obviously on a smaller scale.

For years, LexBlog ran a design and development factory shop much like other web developers and marketing agencies. Graphic designers rendered designs, which when approved by clients were reduced to PSD’s (photoshop design files), which were then developed on our platform by web developers.

Time consuming, fraught with points where mistakes could be made and it didn’t scale – the more “successful” we were in selling, the greater the problem we had in maintaining, hosting and upgrading ‘sites.’

The answer for LexBlog was to develop the publishing platform we needed to succeed – the Apple Fritter design and publishing platform.

Apple Fritter, built on WordPress core and customized WordPress software, allowed our art director to design in software on a ‘live’ site. Customers could look in if they wanted to. No developers needed. Developers work on AF upgrades (including quarterly WordPress upgrades) and new features.

Arc isn’t bare bone publishing software, it offers publishers a suite of tools. Per Marshall:

The Arc technology suite includes a range of tools designed to help publishers produce, manage, publish, host and monetize their websites and apps, in addition to offering other analytics and optimization tools.

Tronc CEO, Justin Dearborn sees Arc giving its newspapers everything they need on the software front.

This partnership will provide us with the capabilities that our reporters need to deliver award-winning journalism across all platforms and new tools that allow our marketing partners to connect with our growing digital audience.

I’ve been in DC and Chicago the last couple weeks introducing large client publishers to Apple Fritter and the ability to license our Apple Fritter as a self service design and publishing platform for their blogs, mini-sites, magazines and networks.

Apple Fritter, with its tools and features, provides client publishers all they need to publish, distribute and track their posts, articles and stories. Custom designs for various types of publications will have already been loaded by LexBlog.

As with the Post’s Arc being available to all news publishers, large and small, Apple Fritter will be available to all publishers – law firms, law schools, bar associations, legal tech companies, web development agencies, marketing companies and other organizations. Not only for publications, but also for websites.

As context, all of LexBlog’s products and add-ons are named after products at Top Pot “Hand Forged” Doughnuts, a large doughnut chain here in Seattle, that boasts of being the official doughnut of the Seattle Seahawks. Thus Apple Fritter.

With the advent of the Internet, and with it the expansion of open publishing, it’s not reasonable to expect law reviews to continue in their current form.

Law professors looking to publish should be provided their own “printing press” operated and supported by the law school. With WordPress the defacto content management system of record for digital publishing, WordPress should serve as the law school’s printing press.

Law reviews have been published in the States for almost 200 years, with the first being the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in 1852. Today, we have Law Reviews published by most every major law school, covering either general topics with the law review in the law school’s name or a partcular area of the law, such as environmental law.

Until the Internet, printed law reviews made a lot of sense. How else could the insight of law professors, judges and practicing lawyers be disseminated? How else could such commentary be cited by the courts?

But, as University of Kentucky College of Law Professor Brian Frye writes this week, as information costs drop ever closer to zero, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify law reviews in their current printed form.

Law reviews today, rather than disseminate legal commentary per Frye, limit the distribution of valuable ideas.

The inefficiency of the law review editorial process is legendary. While peer-reviewed journals may take even longer to publish articles, law reviews are still inexcusably slow. Many (most?) law professors post drafts of their papers to repositories like SSRN, Bepress, or the new Lawarxiv. Typically, articles do not appear in “print” until long after they are publicly available, often a year or more. By that time, most of the intended audience for the article has already seen and read (or ignored) it. Much of the delay is caused by the pointless convention that law review articles appear in printed “volumes” and “issues.” Nobody wants a printed law review, especially a smorgasbord generalist one. It is a huge waste of time, money, and effort to produce print law reviews that inevitably go straight to the landfill, along with the law porn that accompanies them. There is no longer any reason for law reviews to publish anywhere other than online. If authors actually want printed copies of their articles, they can order them print on demand.

Worse than distribution, says Frye, is the incoherent and arbitrary way student run law reviews choose what to publish, and from whom. A lot of good ideas and insight from legal professionals never sees the light of day.

A lot of good scholarship gets ignored, especially on subjects law students don’t understand, and a lot of flashy dross gets published. It is an article of faith among law professors that law review editors prefer constitutional law to any other subject, and the odds of placing an article are proportional to the number of editors who have taken the relevant class. Law students also reward articles with lots of carefully bluebooked citations, a metric that seems largely uncorrelated with good scholarship. And under the wildly inefficient and depressing “expedite” tradition, most “prestige” law reviews don’t even consider or bother reading articles until one of their “prestige competitors” has accepted it for publication.

University of New Hampshire Law Professor, Ann Bartow, hit on the idea of law professors having their own printing press at the law school in a 2008 blog post, cited by Brye.

What if faculty members published their articles exclusively in their “home” journals? That would eliminate the focus on the “placement” of a piece, hopefully with increased attention to actual content as a result, and motivate both students and faculty to do more high quality work, I’d suspect. Bias against scholarly subject areas would be reduced, and generalized bias against faculty at lower tier law schools would no longer affect the “sorting function” that placements have on junior faculty writers. Law faculties that produced good, relevant scholarship would see their home journals get numerous citations. Law faculties that did not would see the impact of their home journals and the reputation of their law schools suffer, and deservedly so.

Ten years ago it would not have been as easy to set up, or license, a WordPress publishing platform. Most law professors were, and still are, publishing blogs on TypePad, outdated and little used publishing software, originally produced by Six Apart.

Today, WordPress is running almost 70 percent of the content management systems in the world. WordPress is regualrly updated and enables a multi-user platform with multiple individual sites, all of which would be needed by a law school’s “printing press.”

Many law reviews publish online-only content in addition to their print publications, with some law journals abandoning print entirely, publishing solely to the Internet.

Why not go with the inevitable and enable the “home journals” referenced by Bartow and Frye with the open source technology we have at our disposal today, WordPress.

With the democratization of publishing brought about by the Internet, and now WordPress, there’s a legitimate question as to how long publishers of academic and research information can retain their business model.

A business model that enables such publishers to obtain research and scholarship at little cost and then sell subscription access to the research to the very institutions whose scholars performed the research and authored the resulting papers.

The recent acquisitions of SSRN by LexisNexis in May and bpress by Elsevier last week are disconcerting to some U.S. law librarians because of, among others, open access. I shared librarians response to the bpress acquisition.

Both SSRN and bpress have served as repositories, generally open access, of legal papers and scholarship. However, RELX Group, the parent of both acquiring companies, as opposed to mostly open access, sells subscriptions to legal, scientific, medical and other scholarship. Add to that, Law Librarians don’t seem to trust either LexisNexis or Elsevier.

Open access is particularly coming to a head in Germany where a consortium of German universities, research institutes and public libraries are demanding from Elsevier fair pricing and open access to all papers authored by researchers at German institutions. After over eight months, the two sides remain at an impasse.

Chemistry World’s Ned Stafford reports that more than 70 universities and institutions have cancelled contracts with Elsevier to ‘improve their negotiating power.’

Tim Gowers, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge and an open access supporter who led a boycott against Elsevier in 2012, tells Stafford:

I am very impressed that the German negotiators have had the courage and vision to stand up to the bullying tactics of Elsevier, and that they have had the necessary support from researchers who use the journals.

Lead negotiator Horst Hippler tells Stafford that the negotiation team is in close contact with the U.S. and other European countries.

We are receiving a lot of positive feedback and recognition, especially regarding our negotiating goals for transformation to open access and for a fair and sustainable price model.

David Matthews, for Times Higher Education, reports that some in the German negotiating group are willing to “pull the plug” on Elsevier and get access to articles from other sources, like university repositories and academic social networks.

Elsevier takes an old school bullying approach to ‘no deal.’ Without access, Elsevier tells Matthews that “German university rankings and their ability to attract talented academics could suffer.”

Elsevier may also be feeling pretty good, with Matthews reporting that their profits were up 3 per cent last year as the company released another 64 journals. Matthews also added that the publisher’s profit margin at 37 per cent “remains high enough to make many academics wince.”

Things can change fast though. Just ask the folks who were at Martindale-Hubbell, also a RELX Group company, when its profit margins exceeded those of Elsevier’s. A failure to adapt effectively to the Internet resulted in a company worth a billion dollars being sold in close to an asset sale a few years later.

I am not suggesting that Elsevier is going to be sold for assets, but I am suggesting that universities and institutions should be publishing open access on open source technology so that they control their intellectual capital. This intellectual capital can then be reviewed and shared freely across the Internet.

Advances in science, law, medicine and the like will move faster as will the ability to build a name for yourself in these fields.

Rather than hold on to the past, Elsevier could look to enable the inevitable, open access, and build business models around it.

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.