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.  

A snappy 10 hour flight yesterday and I was back in Seattle from London where I attended the Legal Geek Law Tech Conference, met with law firms and introduced LexBlog to The Law Society.

I said it last year, and this next year I’ll follow through on it — that being to get to London, regularly, to expand LexBlog’s international reach and influence.

It’s important not only for LexBlog to expand markets globally, but for LexBlog to evangelize the cause of legal blogging, worldwide, for both the democratization of legal publishing and making legal services more accessible. 

The UK, and I suspect the rest of the world, is dealing with the same crisis in access to legal services as the States. Lawyers/solicitors are becoming irrelevant to the majority of consumers and small business people. This erodes not only citizens’ legal rights but the very business of lawyers. Legal blogging establishes trust and communication between lawyers and people narrowing this divide.

UK based large law firms and lawyers in these firms are struggling with how to effectively publish through the net for business development and building a name. Many are blindly publishing content, pushing it out and hoping something comes of it for business development.

Most large firms are using, some knowingly, others not, antiquated publishing software that’s not being updated on any regular basis.

LexBlog has the opportunity to help these firms with our managed WordPress publishing platform. We could save them money and time, improve security and performance, improve ease of use, increase syndication/visibility and enable integration of their blogs and other publishing with their websites – all without delayed website development limiting regular updates and feature enhancements.

The Legal Geek Law Tech Conference was nothing short of amazing. 2,000 attendees from 40 countries, 100 speakers across multiple stages, countless legal tech companies displaying their solutions in booths set up in a down to earth garage like setting, and legal professionals from large firms, small firms and major companies. 

Beyond the educational side, the networking opportunities at a European conference are outstanding. Chatting with lawyers, legal tech entrepreneurs and executives in major companies from the UK, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and other countries is something you don’t get at U.S. conferences. 

Talking to people from overseas not only leads to relationships for business development, but also gives one a different perspective on the law, legal services and legal technology.

As a result, just today, I was introducing, via Twitter, a Swiss legal tech company founder to the general counsel of a highly successful and heavily funded U.S. legal tech company.

I wanted to meet with folks with The Law Society for a few reasons. One to introduce them to LexBlog – what we do and what we stand for. I figured they’d hear about us as we started “knocking on doors.”

Secondly I wanted to see if there were ways LexBlog could help The Law Society and their member solicitors. In that we liberally support good causes, law students, law schools and access to the delivery of legal services, I thought there may be some common ground.

Third, I wanted to get their feedback as to introducing LexBlog’s free legal blogging community and the solutions we offer to UK law firms.

I’ll confess traveling overseas for work makes for an attractive “vacation,” with Mrs. RL and I traveling together. Heck, just walking/taking the underground from one meeting to the next is an experience in and of itself – the sites and the people were great.

One successful lawyer, looking to expand her influence in fashion law across Europe, even met us at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum for coffee and to show us around limited viewing areas.

The scary part in this travel is that I am home for only today before heading out to Boston for College of Law Practice Management and Legal Marketing Association conferences and meeting law firms. Only a 5 hour flight there though.

The cause is good in all this travel — shining a light on legal bloggers, worldwide, and improved access to legal services.

This Wednesday, October 17, marks the the third annual Legal Geek Law Tech Conference.

What started out as 30 people eating pizza and drinking beer in the basement of a startup warehouse in San Francisco, Legal Geek has grown into one of the largest legal tech conferences in the world with over 2,000 attendees from 40 countries coming this year.

They’ll have over a 100 speakers from US, Canada, Russia, Singapore, New Zealand, Spain, France, Netherlands and Israel. Legal Geek’s new In-House stage hopes to make legal tech more relevant for general GC’s.

Founded by Jimmy Vestbirk, Legal Geek is a startup community with over 6,000 members. Like organizations and startups in the States, they see their members, “Friends of Legal Geek” changing the legal profession forever.

I have been following Legal Geek and Vestbirk for a couple years and been drawn to the fun they they have, the passion they bring and to the people and companies they cover.

Road trips in the orange VW bus across the UK and the continent bring coverage of legal tech and its people. All interviews, of course, in the back seat of the VW bus. Their blog brings regular news, including the “Lawyers who Code” series.

LexBlog brings its “Legal Tech Founders Series” to Legal Geek, where I’ll interview a number of legal tech company founders. We have a good number lined up, but drop me a note if you want to be interviewed.

In addition to the main conference on Wednesday, Legal Geek, has a startup event tonight and design conference on Thursday. Quite a show, and glad to be here.

I came home from Clio’s annual Cloud Conference (Clio Con) in New Orleans on Saturday a little tired and a little hoarse.

Little question that Clio Con is solidifying its place as one of the best, if not the best, legal conference. A big thanks to Jack Newton and the entire Clio team. 100 Clio team members traveled from Vancouver to work the conference so the commitment to over the top customer service was evident everywhere.

Four big takeaways for me. One, the impact of Clio’s integration program; two, the relevance of Clio Con for all lawyers and legal professionals, young and old; three, Clio’s recognizing the good work of lawyers; and four, the growing group of good friends I have in the legal tech community.

Clio has talked integration with third party solutions for a couple years, but boy has integration arrived.

Over 150 apps, solutions and products now integrate with the Clio platform. People are quitting their jobs to work on new companies they have founded for the sole purpose of integrating with Clio.

When I asked one legal tech founder how he was getting to market, he just pointed to the Clio exhibit floor. I thought he meant those lawyers walking the exhibit floor, but he meant the 150,000 Clio users – that was his company’s market.

Imagine building your company to have an ecosystem like this. Clio has done it. Over a hundred companies and hundreds of people (not employed by your company) building solutions that make Clio stickier and stickier and getting Clio closer to being a must have for lawyers and law firms.

Clio continues to double done in integration applications. Last year Clio announced it would start making investments in third party integrations. This year, Tali, a voice activated time tracking assistant, was awarded $100,000 for winning Clio’s first Launch Code contest.

Clio Con’s not just for geeks and the futurist in your office. Clio Con is for all lawyers and legal professionals – no matter their age or experience with tech.

A friend of mine from Seattle doing plaintiff’s IP litigation has been practicing for over 35 years. I remarked to him that a lot of the attendees were as young as our kids.

He responded that he really liked the conference – enjoyed the sessions, picked up info from companies he may use and being a solo, he enjoyed the interaction and camaraderie with other lawyers.

Legal tech conferences often miss the essence of the law. Real lawyers representing real people – consumers and small business people. Not Clio Con. Clio is moving from practice management to the delivery of legal services itself and the experience delivered to the consumer of legal services.

In its Riesman awards, individual law firms were recognized for innovation, growth, community service and being the best new law firm in front of over a thousand people watching some pretty moving videos of these firms and their teams.

One of the best things about Clio Con is spending time, be it brief and a bit frantic while all of us are working there, is spending a few days with friends – who just happen to be some of the leading legal tech people in the country – lawyers, law professors, company founders, reporters and more.

They’ve become good friends and we only see each other a couple or three times a year. Clio Con has probably become our largest gathering place.

If you haven’t attended Clio Con, consider doing so. Ideas, inspiration, camaraderie and finding yourself square in the middle of the future and a company bringing you that future are good reasons to come to San Diego next October.

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.

We’ll take LexBlog’s Legal Tech Founders series on the road this week to New Orleans for the annual Clio Cloud Conference.

For this series, I get behind press releases, funding announcements and new products to capture the story of a legal tech founder – so you can see what it’s all about, and maybe join them as a founder.

  • Why start a company?
  • What was the problem you saw that needed solving?
  • What gave you the courage to quit a day job and give up a regular paycheck?
  • How did you get by without a paycheck?
  • Bootstrap or funding?
  • When did you think you could pull it off?
  • What was the absolute low point?
  • What would you tell some crazy enough to think they want to be a legal tech entrepreneur?

A couple months ago, I hosted about a dozen legal tech founders for video interviews at ILTACon in D.C.  The stories – outstanding. The people – outstanding. Totally enjoyed it – and so did they. Check out the Legal Tech Founders site to catch the interviews, along with a transcript of our conversation.

What better place to take the Legal tech Founders series than to Clio Cloud 2018.

Clio is the epitome of a legal tech startup. Clio has also has done more as a platform for legal tech startups than any company.

Clio has built a huge ecosystem around its platform by integrating with over 100 legal technology solutions, the vast vast majority built by companies led by legal tech entrepreneurs and founders.  From Clio’s standpoint, it’s about working with companies that are pushing the boundaries of innovation in legal technology.

Legal tech founder? Willing to share your story? Look for LexBlog’s media booth in New Orleans.

I already have ten legal tech founders scheduled to talk with.  If you want to get scheduled ahead of time, email Caroline Hess, LexBlog’s marketing and communications lead.

See you there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Thursday evening, news broke on mainstream media (news television and news sites) that the American Bar Association was calling for a FBI investigation of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

Wanting to following the legal community’s, the public’s and the media’s commentary on the ABA’s position I went to Twitter looking for the ABA’s tweet on its position and the tweets that followed thereon.

It would be in tweets that followed the ABA tweet that open public commentary would ensue. This discussion would drive commentary across the net — last evening and into this morning. The commentary could also bubble up to influence the mainstream media’s discussion of the ABA’s position. And who knows, maybe even commentary on the senate committee floor.

But I could find nothing on the ABA’s position, from either the ABA itself or its president, Bob Carlson.

I shared on Twitter that I found it odd that the ABA chose not to post its position on social media.

This morning, the ABA did post to Twitter that that the ABA president had sent a letter to the the senate judiciary committee urging them to conduct a confirmation vote on Judge Kavanaugh only after a FBI investigation on Dr. Ford’s allegations.

Shortly afterwards this morning, the ABA tweeted for its president, Bob Carlson, the ABA position and a link to yesterday’s letter.

Later on Friday morning the ABA shared its position on Facebook.

My first thought was that the ABA wanted to limit the news on its position and limit discussion on its position among its members, the legal community in general, the public and the media. After all, almost two thirds of Americans get news from social media, with Twitter dominating as the source of news on social media.

On breaking news, such as with the Kavanaugh hearing, Twitter is at the center of news and commentary. Mainstream turn to Twitter for news and commentary, then share, air and ‘print’ tweets. Twitter is where news is discussed by the public, especially those who influence further discussion on the subject.

So if you wanted to take a position, limit who would hear of it and curtail commentary on the position, you’d send a letter, post a press release, and delay sharing word of it to social media.

That’s what the ABA did. It issued a press release on Thursday announcing that that the “ABA president calls for FBI investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh.”

But rather than wanting to limit word of the ABA’s position and limit discussion on its position, my gut tells me the ABA just doesn’t use social media very well. And that’s a little sad for an organization that wants to play a role in driving legal commentary and the advancement of the law in this country.

The ABA and others will think a day’s delay in posting to social media, or even half of day’s delay is nothing. A mere formality. A task handled when someone gets to work the next day.

But the world today dictates otherwise. The use of social media is a reality, and probably more important than press releases and letters.

The ABA has acknowledged that it’s revenues are on the steep decline and that membership is dropping. To remain relevant to the public, its membership and the legal community in general, the ABA needs to learn how to engage its audience in a modern world.

The ABA’s communications on Kavanaugh make clear the ABA has not not yet learned how to engage the public.

I was in Chicago this week, speaking at a couple of law schools.

The topic? How law students can use blogging and social media for learning, building relationships and building a name.

The more I speak at law schools, the more I realize law students and law schools are much like lawyers and law firms when it comes to blogging and other social media.

There is the understandable fear of doing something that will leave an indelible mark, the fear of not knowing perfectly what you are doing (learning by trial and error is not usually done in the law nor promoted in law school), and the difficulty of being openly real and authentic.

It’s hit and miss from law school to law school as to whether students are receptive to the message of networking through the Internet via social media and blogging.

Those schools with law professors, deans and career development professionals acting as role models on social media and blogging and with educational programs in this regard are way ahead of the game. The students at their schools are receptive, want to learn and want to get started.

And unfortunately, just like lawyers, most law students are not willing to put in the time to distinguish themselves. That’s real disappointing as the need to develop a personal brand and be seen as willing to assert oneself is ever increasing.

My visiting school to school, repetitively, doesn’t really scale. It’s going to take boots on the ground in the form of knowledgeable and experienced law students at the law schools with the support from the mothership in Seattle – LexBlog.

Westlaw has had student reps, and so has LexNexis. We’re seeing newer legal tech companies such as casetext with student reps.

LexBlog student reps could be at a law school to help a fellow student spin up for a free professional blog in minutes through the expedited LexBlog system. They could show fellow students the social media to use from Twitter, Facebook, to  LinkedIn and how to use these networking tools effectively.

I raised the idea of a LexBlog representative at one of the schools yesterday. The idea was very well received by a law professor. In fact, seen as possibly more valuable to students than services from other organizations with student representatives.

It will be very special to see the progression of law students building a name and relationships while in law school by networking through the net.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll teach lawyers and law schools a thing or two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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