With LexBlog gradually moving to a distributed workforce, I am taking a page out of Matt Mullenweg’s playbook – that being that as a CEO I should be traveling out to see my team where they live and work. Headed to Boston tonight.

I’ll be seeing Scott Fennell, our lead developer, and a highly respected WordPress developer among its open source community, nation-wide, who lives in Portland, Maine. Scott’s being nice enough to take the train down to Boston to accommodate me with having a few other meetings in the city. Next time, I go to Portland.

I’ll also be meeting our Robert Ambrogi, the dean of legal tech journalism, who needs no introduction. Bob, who hails from Rockport, Mass, the next cape up from Cape Cod, is a taking brief train or car ride down.

Last week, I met up with Andy Walters, our senior project manager, in his home, Austin. Worked out great as I enjoyed Andy contributing to a meeting with one of our state bar association partners.

Meeting in a coffee shop in West Hollywood about four years, Matt Mullenweg asked me if I thought the best team members for LexBlog were located within forty miles of Seattle. I kind of blew him off, but he was serious.

Matt is the co-founder of WordPress and the CEO of Automattic, a multi-billion dollar company and the operator of the largest managed WordPress platform (WordPress.com) in the world.

With over 1,000 employees, Automattic has neither a headquarters nor offices. The entire team is distributed.

Five years ago, or so, Matt moved to San Francisco from his home in Houston and opened offices near downtown. But no one really used the offices, do Matt closed the offices and moved back to Houston – though with Automattic team members and WordPress open source developers all over the world, Matt is on the road a lot.

Want to learn more about a distributed workforce, Automattic style, pick up the book, ‘Year Without Pants,’ by Scott Berkum. Berkum chronicles the behind-the-scenes look at the company behind WordPress.com and its unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success – 50 million websites, or close to thirty percent of the entire web.

More on LexBlog’s distributed later. Know for now that we are benefiting.

Beyond meeting up with Scott and Bob, I am going to meet some associations as to how they, their member lawyers and the public not finding access to legal services can benefit from our Syndication Portal product.

As popular as the ‘Portals’ are (two more state bar associations signed on as partners this week), we’re not ‘selling’ the portals, we’d be remiss if we didn’t reach out to bar associations to share with them how they can benefit – financially even – from a ‘Portal.’

Back Thursday night or Friday morning.

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Bar association partners. Has a nice ring to it, as it relates to bars being partners of LexBlog, or maybe better put, LexBlog being a parters of bar associations.

Sure, we’ve had member benefit programs with bar associations. Bar members receive a discount off LexBlog services. Sometimes bar associations benefit financially as well.

But these programs have always felt a little hollow. Nothing was being done to really benefit the bar, its members, and the public – consumers and small business people, that we all serve. Just a financial exchange that required LexBlog to go out and market and sell to the bar’s members. In a relationship based sales business like LexBlog’s, that type of sales is tough sledding.

I’ve admired Fastcase’s bar association partnership program. Bars and Fastcase partnered to democratize the law – to make the law free to lawyers, as opposed to selling the law to lawyers as the large legal publishers have always done. A cost that was passed on by law firms to their clients, something further limiting access to legal services.

LexBlog is all about improving access to legal services. To bring effective access to the 85% of people – consumers, the middle class and businesses, who aren’t sure if they have a legal issue, what lawyers could do for them and how to find a caring and experienced lawyer.

Legal blogs have proven an effective way to establish an intimate relationship of trust in lawyers. Lawyers going out where people are and giving of themselves in a real and authentic fashion. Not websites trying to grab attention in the form of what is basically an advertisement – no intimate relationship of trust there.

Lexblog is establishing a Project Access to Legal to Services (name for now) with the goal being to partner with bar associations from coast to coast to provide real and immediate access to legal services to the 85%.

We’ll begin by inspiring blogging lawyers to keep blogging and take it up a notch – to help themselves, as lawyers, and to help the 85%. This will be done through our Syndication Portal product highlighting, at a state or metro level, existing bloggers and their commentary.

With three state bar associations partnering, via Portals, and another to follow shortly, we’re close to 10% of states. Small, but a positive start.

We’ll then Work with the bars to look at the larger cities in states to build out a network of lawyers covering personal plight areas of the law – about 12 areas, including family law, bankruptcy, workers compensation, real state, estate planning, employment and elder law – to make sure consumers and small business people have access to legal information from local lawyers they trust and develop an intimate relationship of trust with those lawyers.

Where there are gaps in coverage – there will be many – LexBlog will provide its professional turnkey blog solution at a discount and train these lawyers to be outstanding bloggers.

Take this approach and LexBlog, bar associations and their members are working on something bigger than themselves. Something that makes a dent. Something better and bigger than a member benefit, alone.

Happy Valentines Day from Austin, heading home to Seattle.

Meeting a friend visiting Seattle from Atlanta who has traveled the road I have recently traveled, and more. Looking forward to it, enough so to catch a 6 AM flight home and get to up at 3:30 to run up Congress Ave and around the Capitol.

Running every morning has certainly made it a habit, so, believe it or not, it’s enjoyable to get up and get out, no matter the time. Though a 5 AM flight could make for an all nighter.

Austin was good. The ABA and NABE (National Association of Bar Executives) mid-year meetings were both taking place.

Looks like we’ll move a large bar association from their current network website to our syndication portal product. Met with another bar leader as to whom to discuss such a move at their bar as well as a highly trusted bar and law firm consultant about talking with additional bars.

It’s really a no-brainer for firms and organizations to run their web presences/publications on SaaS solutions like our portal – all upgrades, feature additions and hosting are all included and taken care of by us/LexBlog. Websites developed, one at a time, for organizations are running on outdated software from the day they launch and it becomes an ordeal – and expensive – to make improvements, let alone launch a new site at some point.

The Fastcase annual partners dinner for bar associations has grown to over 160 professionals who are working with Fastcase to make the law (legal research) free to lawyers. This democratizes the law which traditionally has been sold by a dualopoly of Thomson-Reuters/Westlaw and LexisNexis. Over 900,000 lawyers now have free access via Fastcase/bar association partnerships.

Thank you to Fastcase co-founders, Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal for inviting me to the dinner each year. It’s good to spend time with bar leaders as well Fastcase team members, many of whom are new as a result of Fastcase’s growth.

I enjoyed Phil’s comments thanking the bars for the partnership they’ve forged over the last 20 years. Now 20 years old, Phil said people won’t let him a call Fastcase a startup anymore – “and more than founding and running a company, at 20 years, it’s truly become one’s life work.”

I’ll remember that line, “one’s life’s work.” When you start out chasing a dream, you want to make a difference – to leave a dent, to make the world a better place because you were here. “Our life’s work” is a very nice way to put it.”

And Fastcase, LexBlog and other legal tech companies like us will always be startups. We came from no where to deliver solutions and ideas that never existed before that now benefit thousands of legal professionals and the people they serve.

I think it’s always, “Day One,” as Jeff Bezos says.

I was feeling a little guilty (as an Irish Catholic, I feel guilty at the drop of a hat) or wondering if I was moving to fast by getting out and traveling for work. But I have found, after two trips, traveling helps.

Talking with my friend, Jim Calloway from Oklahoma, last evening, he said that’s because you’re doing what you always do – being out on your own and spending time with people whose company you enjoy.

Also helps to talk with friends – business colleagues and customers truly are my friends. More than offer condolences, they spend time talking with me. They give me their ear, enabling me to talk through what the kids and I are feeling.

I then have the chance to tell them to cherish their family and the time they have together. Life is precious – and fleeting. “Hug your spouse/partner and your clidren every chance you get.”

So as my friend, Richard Georges, who has also traveled this road, counsels me, I’ll try not to use travel as an escape, I’ll use it to grow. As Rick says, “use travel to bring joy.”

I’ll be in Austin on Thursday for the ABA’s Annual Mid-Year meeting.

In addition to ABA officials getting together, the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) holds its Mid-Year meeting at the same time. NABE serves the management staff of bar associations and law-related organizations and its membership is comprised largely of employees from such associations.

Knowing that relationships with people are the lifeline of any business, especially at LexBlog where we’re often more interested in who you are than what you do, I’m going down to spend time – even if it is only for one day – with people whom I enjoy knowing, and working with.

Fastcase, founded and operated by my friends, Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal, holds an annual dinner at Mid-Year for NABE member executives in appreciation for their using the Fastcase research platform and related products as a member benefit for their association members.

I’ve had the honor of being a guest of Ed’s and Phil’s the last few years. Gives me the opportunity to renew friendships and make new ones.

Mid-Year also provides the opportunity to meet with any number of legal and business professionals, some in earlier scheduled meetings and some set up when folks respond to my “I’ll be in Austin at Mid-Year, let’s meet..” announcements on Twitter and Facebook.

Meetings just for the social engagement, meetings offering folks feedback on what they’re working and meetings to share what LexBlog is working on.

Even when I am showing people what LexBlog is working on or releasing for a new product, I never view it as selling. I view the legal and business professionals I know as friends. I would be remiss if I don’t show them what we’re doing, I’d be leaving them out of what others have seen and are taking advantage of.

Look me up, if you’re attending. I have some time during the day – and Thursday evening, after the dinner.

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If you’ve been following along, you know that LexBlog’s been releasing its Syndication Portal product over the last six or eight months.

Bar associations are using Portals to generate revenue, showcase their members, inspire lawyers to blog, increase access to legal services and connect lawyers to people, among other things.

We’ve run network sites for associations for years, but not as a SaaS solution like Portals.

I asked my COO, Garry Vander Voort, to run a comparison breakdown of the network features and the features now available with the Portal solution. I wanted to have it in hand to answer questions I’ll get in a meeting Thursday with an association running on a network who may want to consider moving to a Portal.

The comparison showed a lot of new stuff once you unpack it.

The new items are in BOLD.

  • A mobile-first Syndication Portal hosted by LexBlog with a custom domain.
  • A sign up form for members to submit their RSS feeds for inclusion on LexBlog.com.
  • LexBlog will process, troubleshoot and add member sites to the Portal.
  • A directory of publishing bar members, firms and publications.
  • Access to an aggregated content feed containing just association member blogs and their content.
  • The ability to post original content onto the site.
  • Aggregation of not just post titles and summaries, but complete post content and metadata from Member Blogs.
  • Multiple responsive advertising widgets.
  • Content feature widgets to draw attention to specific members, their posts or podcasts.
  • An automated newsletter of member content sent to subscribers on a recurring basis.
  • Inclusion of association member content on LexBlog.com. This includes promotion of relevant content on the frontpage and social media channels.
  • Inclusion of relevant content into FastCase’s comprehensive national law library. LexBlog is the exclusive provider of law blog posts, as secondary law, to Fastcase.
  • Inclusion of relevant content into the vLex research platform.
  • Google Analytics integration.
  • Free service upgrades and feature enhancements to the the Portal as made by LexBlog.

Headed home to Seattle from New York City after my first trip “out.” Nice, but different.

Business is taken in context these days. What seemed important in the past, such as scheduling multiple meetings a day, or accepting what others thought important is no longer as important in the context of the important things in life.

I did have three or four good meetings discussing LexBlog publishing, innovation and our new syndication work.

Syndication to third party publishers by licensing our syndication platform as a SaaS solution continues to be well received. Six meetings now with publishing partners have led to four sales and two very interested publishers.

LexBlog is a big believer in startups/innovators sharing their product idea openly, writing about it, stewing on it via online and face to face engagement and if there is an interest, jumping to selling and then, production.

Early customers are vested in your success and will help you refine your product via questions, feedback and suggestions.

In addition, you are bringing in revenue while doing product development. As opposed to investing human and financial resources in something that may not sell – or if it does, needs to be heavily.

Our syndication portal product is proof positive that there are alternative publishing models to the model of paying reporters and editors and then selling subscriptions and advertising.

Writers, reporters and columnists shouldn’t have to pay for the distribution of their stories in any business model – which they do not here. In addition, those writers, reporters and editors don’t need to be paid when they have an alternative source of revenue – think lawyers.

Nice dinner last evening with a delightful professional who is interesting in selling for LexBlog in New York City and Europe. We talked business, but more so about life and family. Felt good.

She’d light up a room, represent us so well and nurture relationships – the heart of business development. I’m hopeful.

Big kudos to the folks who gave me their ear and shoulder. It helps so much to talk about the last month, the last year and what the kids and I are feeling. I have also found the “club” of those who are grieving or have grieved to be much larger than I’d thought.

People are so different in how they respond and treat you – and I am talking of people who are well aware of what we’ve been living.

Many act like nothing’s changed, with their focus being on business and cheerily ask “how you you doing, things must be going well for you,” never mentioning the subject, presumably thinking to do so would bring you down.

Others thought of it as a short term loss – “Kevin is going to have a tough couple months.” Was glad to hear that I’d be up and at it by March.

Didn’t really begrudge these folks, just laughed it off that they didn’t know what to say or simply didn’t have a clue.

Was enjoyable to discuss with other legal professionals who have lost a spouse at a “younger age” just how some folks react to you.

For everyone who wasn’t sure how to react though, there were fifty who did. Sensitive thoughts, pulling me aside to share how bad they felt, an offer to go out for dinner just to talk. So kind. So thoughtful.

Thank you all. Onward – I guess. ;)

The traditional, or pre-Internet, way of news publishing was to get people to come to your publication and consume the content.

Whether it was a newspaper or magazine you subscribed to or picked up up at a news stand, you read articles under the masthead of the newspaper or periodical.

With the advent of the Internet, news publishers mirrored the traditional model. Let’s get as much traffic to our website so we can sell ads or sell subscriptions to content that would otherwise be behind paywalls.

Looking around, we see that carrying the traditional model to the Internet has not worked out well. Other than the New York Times and the Washington Post, I don’t know of any newspapers which are thriving.

The Chicago Tribune, one of the nation’s leading newspapers fifteen years ago, had reporters and editors calling out in a New York Times story this week for people to save them from the tyranny of the private equity firm which acquired the paper and presumably did not favor quality journalism.

LexBlog is in a unique position in that we have tens of thousands of legal columnists publishing on our network. Publishing on their own unique publications.

But when LexBlog thinks of a legal news network, it makes little sense to think of the LexBlog.com website as the place where people should consume legal news and commentary.

Hey, it would be great if everyone did come to LexBlog.com, but what makes us so special that we’d be exempt from the death news publishers are experiencing with that model. The best we could do is “die better” than other publishers.

LexBlog is closer to Time, Inc., which published over 100 magazine brands, including its namesake Time, Sports Illustrated, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Fortune, People, InStyle, Life, Golf Magazine, Southern Living, Essence, Real Simple, and Entertainment Weekly.

Time Inc. didn’t say, “You know what, we should build a super magazine or website that includes content on travel, the NFL and wine. We have all this content, let’s pull it together and get people reading what they didn’t come looking for.”

LexBlog should be doing everything we can to empower and inspire our publishers – and publications.

If someone in Portland, Maine is looking for great insight and commentary from a caring and experienced professional, they are far more likely to find it on a Maine Workers Compensation Law Blog than a Maine workers compensation blog whose insight is curated at LexBlog. Google and social media will see to it.

LexBlog is a network and a publisher,  and need not be a destination site which tries to get people to drop what they’re reading elsewhere to come to LexBlog to read “our stuff.”

LexBlog can still be the leading publisher of legal insight and commentary, we just don’t have to follow failing business models.

The aggregation and curation of legal news and commentary has value.

It inspires legal professionals to blog or to get started blogging. Hit a button and see all the good workers compensation lawyers blogging across the country, and you get fired up to get started – or to keep going.

A network of professionals, content and publications ensues, all valuable in different ways to legal professionals and the consumers of legal services.

Aggregated and curated network legal content puts LexBlog in the position of being an AP or UPI. We syndicate content to where it is most relevant.

One example is state bar associations using our syndication portal product to shine a light on the blogging lawyers in their state and to build a body of relevant law available to lawyers and the public.

Another example is making this legal insight and related data available to legal research and AI companies. Again, this gets legal content out where it is most relevant. Expecting legal professionals to leave such solutions and come over to a central legal periodical or site doesn’t make sense.

Another example of why aggregation/curation, and there are countless more, is social media. Is LexBlog better to emphasize publishing aggregated content on its website or to emphasize publishing such content on social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? It’s possible it’s the latter.

I haven’t figured this whole Internet publishing thing out. I am not sure anyone has.

My gut tells me though not try to emulate those publishers who have failed, or are failing. To try something different – to focus on the power of the network looking do to all we can to inspire and empower the independent publishers.

In addition to the publishers having effective and attractive publications, we inspire them and syndicate their content to where it is most relevant.

This Christmas marks seventeen Christmases of blogs and RSS for me.

Blogs represented the democratization of publishing for me in 2003.

RSS was the radio signal that enabled bloggers to “broadcast” and have their signal received on a RSS reader on other’s computers.

A personal publishing press on your computer for which your copy was distributed for free.

Another way to look at it, a personal radio station broadcast to radios, worldwide, again all at no cost.

Powerful stuff, when you pause to think about it.

What a perfect way for lawyers to publish, or broadcast, relevant resources to select audiences . The little guy competes with the big guy.

Need not worry about people you may want to connect with finding your publication or station. It was “if you build it, they will come.”

Google surfacing the good stuff and others with similar interests sharing and citing what you published.

What a way for lawyers to connect with people in a real, authentic and intimate way.

With lawyers as the enablers of law in our society, blogs and RSS drove the law.

Blogs and RSS provided access to the law – and for the average consumer and small business person how to use legal services and which lawyer was the right one for you.

Seventeen Christmases in, blogs and RSS remain every bit as powerful and effective.

Dave Winer, the founder of RSS and blogging, wrote this week that we have made a terrible mistake in “…walking away from the powerful open and independent amateur publishing features of the web.”

As to the popular refrain that RSS died by Google’s unfairly killing off Google Reader, Winer’s right in saying:

“It’s fun to hate Google Reader, but it’s over my friend, and we are free to do whatever we like. Enjoy the holidays knowing that Google Reader is dead, RSS is fine.”

If you build it, they will come, remains true for bloggers putting in the time and care to offer value.

To the extent that blogs and RSS have become less effective for some individuals, that’s more a result of self-destructive blogging behavior than blogs.

SEO over all else, ghost writers, distribution mediums, web traffic as the sole goal, blogs inside websites to draw readers to things for which they have no interest and social media versus publishing.

They all represent a move away from the “powerful open and independent amateur publishing” aspect of blogs and RSS.

Merry Christmas. The gift of blogs and RSS remains very much alive.

Should legal tech companies looking to build the best solutions be seeking the input of lawyers?

Frank Ready of Legal Tech News writes today that lawyers want ‘easier’ technology, but legal tech companies aren’t sure what that means. The irregularity and hastiness which feedback does come has left product developers hungry for insights into the legal mind.

Ready spoke with various people, inside and outside of law firms, as to how this input can be obtained. In some cases hiring lawyers. In other cases, doing the tech work inside a law firm, for a captive customer, if you will. Others advised spending more time with lawyers and getting to know their language.

I’m not sure legal tech companies, when beginning or when working on new ideas and products. need to or should be seeking the input of lawyers.

I’m serious.

Look at what Steve Jobs had to say on the subject.

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

I’m in agreement with Jobs – like who wouldn’t agree with Jobs when it comes to building products and a company.

You really think Preston Gates and Ellis, now K&L Gates would have told me fifteen years ago, “You know, what we’re looking for – a blog. A website with ten posts on the front page running in reverse chronological order with each post having its own page, by a niche subject, on a separate domain from our website, that allowed comments and on which the busiest lawyers in one of our most high profile practice areas are going to publish.

It was like Jobs said, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. It was only after a made a blog for Preston Gates, complete with design and blog posts, and displayed the blog on the big screen that Preston Gates liked a blog.

Well, at least one of the three people in the room liked the concept. The other two, judging from how early they exited the room, thought I was nuts.

I really wasn’t all that interested in what Preston Gates or other firms thought a blog should be or how I should modify my product to alleviate their concerns. They knew nothing about blogs or digital publishing, as I was proposing it.

As a the producer of a product, I didn’t want to be one-offed to death by the firms I met and end up with an inferior product which would satisfy the “lowest common denominator.” I also couldn’t afford the time and expense of such modifications.

Guy Kawasaki advised entrepreneurs and innovators to “be happy, build crappy.” Get your product out there – and fast. You’ll only know you have something when other people take money out of their pocket and put it in your pocket. You can iterate later, per Kawasaki.

Collect customer’s suggestions. As paying customers, they’re more vested in your success than they were as “some what interested” lawyers.

When we get enough customers requesting something, our products team adds the feature.

When we have a new product in mind, or have even built it, we’ll go to prospective customers – the more innovative ones – and ask what they think. Truth be told, we’re selling and not looking to go back to the drawing board.

We’ll make changes after we get enough customers on board to have enough of sample set to justify features – just as we do with our blog platform.

Hey, I am not dissing lawyer input. I just think you better be ready to run without lawyer input.

The one caveat I’d have is what’s the basis of the founding entrepreneur’s belief in the product. What problem did they see? How did the see it?

Interviewing legal tech entrepreneurs, invariably they saw the problem first hand and could not envision for a second their product not solving the problem.

As we the cased with me, others saw the mountain between them and the plains on the other side. The entrepreneur only saw the plains on the other side of the mountain. Clear as could be.

You can develop products lawyers want without asking lawyers.

Of course I have a dog in this hunt, and maybe I am being less than creative with a post on this topic, but hear me out on something that seams to be common sense.

Lawyers and law firms are not well served in setting up their own blog sites.

On Reddit someone asked this week about setting up their own blog.

One person responded that they were a software engineer and that they were interested in learning how to set up a WordPress blog site – and theme – from scratch.

He shared it took him a lot of time that could have been better spent blogging. If blogging is ultimate your goal, he said, rather than feeling compelled to know how to set up a blog from scratch, setting up a blog is a major distraction.

Along the same vein, Kevin Vermeulen of Good2bSocial wrote yesterday about the tools lawyers and law firms can use to get started with podcasts. Fifteen tools for various aspects of podcasting.

Vermeulen’s post is a good one, but does a lawyer – or most law firms – want to wade through and test fifteen tools for podcasting.

For the same reason that consumers and businesses choose lawyers, rather than do the legal work themselves when they don’t know how to do it – and never have, why not choose a professional for podcasts.

Back at Reddit, another person mentioned it’s a lot like a car. You get a car to enjoy driving it, not to build it.

Reddit users, though more likely to tinker setting up a blog than most, talked about various things a do-it-your-selfer was apt not to do, – create fast loading pages (negatively impacting user experience and search),  set up the tech aspects for optimum SEO, set up features, perform social media optimization etc.

There are probably fifteen other things, including RSS, social sharing set up and email subscriptions that a do it you yourself lawyer or firm is going to miss – and sadly not know it.

Truth be told, LexBlog was started when I couldn’t find someone to help me set up a good blog. And even then there were good tools like TypePad.

Lawyers should look no further than WordPress for their blog. I’d guess every company providing professionals a publishing platform uses WordPress.

You’ll probably find the cost for the business plan at WordPress.com, adding the features you’ll want/need, to be about $40 to $50 a month.

Why not pay $30 to $50 a month more to get something tailored for lawyers set up for you – with training, marketing, syndication, free ongoing support and other things you’ll miss set up properly, all included. If you’re not able to make that sum back – in spades – in work developed through blogging, the focus of your blog and your blogging is misguided.

If it’s not LexBlog, choose someone else to avoid the do it yourself blog set up. Seems like common sense.

I’ve been on the road interviewing successful law bloggers the last couple weeks and I’ll continue with more at the end of this week.

I’ll start to post the interviews on a LexBlog YouTube Channel and here on my blog within the next week.

By successful law blogger, I’m referring to lawyers who have built a tremendous reputation as a trusted advisor and thought leader, while at the same time establishing relationships with clients, prospective clients and influencers.

In many cases, blogging has literally been a life changing event for the lawyer.

I walk away from the interviews inspired by what the lawyers have done – all by virtue of the Internet democratizing publishing and business development for the little guy – whether a solo lawyer or a lawyer in a major law firm.

Never until the Internet could a lawyer launch a publication on a niche for which they have a passion. And for the publication to attract an audience of highly interested readers.

Flying back from DC Tuesday night, I was struck that the lawyers I have talked with and will continue to talk with have a blog publication. Publication in the sense of a digital magazine with a name on a separate domain away from the law firm website.

I have yet to interview lawyers who publish blog content in a website.

Admittedly, many of the lawyers I am going to be talking to are LexBlog platform customers and have followed our counsel on publishing, but I am not familiar with life changing blogs published as content in a website.

I understand for many lawyers content is a traffic generation tool to get people to look at information about the lawyer or the firm – the replacement of advertising or brochures of years past. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just different than publishing a niche publication to achieve the status of a lawyer’s lawyer.

LexBlog does aggregate and curate blog posts published on a website – at no cost to the lawyer or the firm. Such work represents excellent insight and commentary. We want to shine a light a light on such lawyers and their work.

I wonder though if the lawyers publishing these posts would achieve much more if they were publishing an independent publication.

Think about it. Lawyers billing hundreds of dollars an hour getting a thirty or forty percent return as compared to publishing an independent publication represents a tremendous loss – in time and money.

Unfortunately, discussing blogs inside websites and outside websites is like talking religion. I am ready to hear I am nuts, often from folks with a vested interest in growing web traffic, versus a name.

I share my comments now as I seek to help more lawyers understand the power of legal blogging. To inspire lawyers to learn from the path other lawyers have taken on legal blogging and the success those lawyers have experienced.

I share my comments and do these interviews because I care deeply about lawyers. It has never been easier to establish a reputation as a leading lawyer and to generate a book of business than it is today.

I want lawyers to take advantage of this opportunity by doing things the right way.

That’s why I ask are law blogs inside a website failing lawyers? Are such blogs holding lawyers back?

Are there Hilary Bricken’s, Staci Riordan’s, Tonya Forsheit’s, Allison Rowe’s, Michelle Mae O’Neil’s, Daniel Schwartz’ and Jeff Nowak’s who blog not to create a publication and trusted advisor status but to publish content in a website for traffic who have achieved the heights these lawyers have from blogging? Who have had a life changing event from blogging?

Is changing your life through legal blogging too lofty a goal? I didn’t see why.

None of the lawyers I mention above are a superwoman or a superman.

They are lawyers just like you who made a decision to take things to a new level and to chase a dream for themselves and, in many cases, for their families.

It can be be done.

As a managed WordPress platform for legal publishers, LexBlog runs a WordPress development shop.

Not as web agencies do with custom web development, which is tough to scale for the developer and the customer, but to perform the WordPress development work for our managed WordPress platform which supports all of our legal bloggers.

Plugins, upgrades and features are being worked on and shipped by LexBlog all of the time. Just as any other SaaS (software as a service) provider does, we’re constantly maintaining and improving the platform, and accompanying service.

LexBlog’s plugin work over the last year included plugins for the aggregation and curation of third party articles and blog posts via RSS. These plugins power LexBlog.com and our growing network of syndication sites such as Illinois Lawyer Now.

Another use of these plugins could be the use of delivering aggregated select content to a third-party’s publishing platform.

Meaning what?

Just as you have a WordPress dashboard for the writing, editing and publishing of articles and pages, a site operating these plugins would also include a dashboard with a list of aggregated content that’s been “pulled in.”

This aggregated content would only be content relevant to the publisher, ie, for the Illinois Bar, blog content from Illinois bar members. Could also mean content selected by topic, jurisdiction or otherwise.

In many cases, LexBlog will “preselect” the content to be fed into the aggregator from our global network of legal blog feeds.

This aggregated content would then be curated by the site’s publisher by them selecting in their WordPress dashboard which pieces to publish and where, editing titles, applying tags, inserting appropriate images and more.

Such a feature could be used by a digital publication, a law firm website that’s looking to display content from lawyers, an email newsletter, an association website with contributions from members etc. The possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.

Why a third-party’s plugins ala LexBlog’s? Regular upgrades and feature additions to the plugins from a company who not only works with WordPress, but works in legal publishing.

The speed, performance and user-experience of a WordPress site is only as good as the sum of the parts. We’re dealing with open source and a vibrant worldwide community of plugin providers.

Trying to manage plugins on your own can become the height of folly. Installing a plugin yourself and then forgetting about it, as many web developers do, will not fly. Upgrades come regularly to the WordPress core software and it’s plugins.

And in the case of legal content, LexBlog is already aggregating the content, only needing to be parsed as appropriate for a publisher.

Most all of what LexBlog has developed until now has been for use on our managed WordPress Platform. It’s time to explore how others operating websites and digital publications may benefit from using LexBlog plugins.

If you’re wondering about those not using WordPress for websites and publishing, they are becoming fewer and fewer. WordPress is on its way to being ubiquitous when it comes to sites with a content management system.

Stay tuned.