LexBlog, with its aggregation of law blog posts, worldwide, and blogger profiles has been described as a legal blogging community.

The Illinois State Bar Association’s Illinois Lawyer Now, launched this week to publish an aggregation of member blog posts and blogger profiles has been described as a community of Illinois legal bloggers – at least those of whom are members of the Illinois State Bar Association. 

But the legal blogging community has always been there – whether LexBlog or Illinois Lawyer Now came about or not.


Continue Reading The Legal Blogging Community Has Always Been There

Big kudos to the Illinois State Bar Association for shining a light on their state’s blogging lawyers with the launch this week of Illinois Lawyer Now

Illinois Lawyer Now aggregates all of the posts on blogs published by members of the Illinois Bar and curates the posts into a constantly updated legal news and commentary publication, which also includes original articles from the Bar and contributors.

Each blog, blogging lawyer and law firm with contributing blogs is profiled in individual pages on the site. 


Continue Reading Illinois Bar Shines a Light on Legal Bloggers With Illinois Lawyer Now

Northwestern Law Professor and widely respected author and speaker on legal tech and innovation, Dan Linna, told the UK’s Law Gazette that the lack of community leadership is stopping a true legal tech community from being formed. 

I responded on Twitter that while the Internet drives countless communities in other verticals and causes, we’re lacking a strong legal tech community and leadership because the people brining us legal tech are absent from the discussion – they do not use the Internet. 

A Twitter discussion ensued as to how to form such an online community, and how to frame and advance such a discussion. 

  • Should the forum be open or private?
  • What platform should be used for the discussion, ie, Slack to other discussion and thought design mediums.
  • Getting people together face to face to discuss how to advance the discussion on how to build a community.
  • Forming a new Facebook or joining in an existing one.

Rather than discuss how to form a community and what medium should be used, why not just start using the medium we have, the open Internet, and get the people we need in the discussion, the legal tech company leaders and legal entrepreneurs.

Our legal profession is notorious for lack of action and studying things to death. Partially out of protectionism and partially for fear of a real and authentic discussion listened to and engaged by all.

 Many in legal tech are acting, talking, and seizing the opportunity to bring access to legal services. 

Let’s now use the open net to share ideas, collaborate, and advance ideas, software and other technology. 

The net is an open communication medium. Starting with Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), usenet groups, AOL, message boards and, close to twenty years ago, blogs. You listened to what was being said and, if so inclined, you engaged in the discussion.

No one discussed how we should begin to talk, collaborate and network through the Internet. Various Google apps, Twitter, Medium and countless other tech advancements and products grew out of blog conversations.

The outcome:

  • Real and authentic insight and commentary, directly from the people in the know.
  • Advancement of ideas, concepts, software and products ensued.
  • Real leadership formed, by virtue of the discussion.
  • Trust or distrust developed in people, their companies or their products. 
  • Reputations were built so as to make for true, not manufactured influence.
  • Relationships were built so we knew who to trust when they shared news and information. 

Today, we have legal tech companies whose leaders are totally absent from the discussion. They “speak” through PR and communications people. Using social media, they get hired hands who know little of the underlying technology and its relationship to the law to cover for them.

Even tech organizations such as Legal Hackers, with about 200 chapters, worldwide, shy way from blogging to collaborate, to dialogue with us and to advance their important projects. Their Internet presence, if you want to call it a presence, comes largely in the form of websites.

I am no net guru, but a legal tech community starts with getting the players to participate. If legal tech company leaders are not participating l, call them out. Ask them what they are afraid of, why they do not want to give of themselves, what they are trying hide and why they don’t want to build trust with the community.

Leadership, like Linna talks of, arises of out action – of discussion in the community and open advancement of ideas and technology. Leadership is not another organization, conference or a title. 

Community requires inclusion.

  • Community is open to all on the Internet. Those talking and those listening. Ideas and leaders can come from anyone, anywhere in the world.
  • Community does not come by invitation, anymore than one would need an invitation to use the Internet.
  • Inclusion requires going where the people are, not where you feel comfortable. Blogging and other social media – listening and talking, personally

The Internet is a wonderful place, when used. We have a lot at stake in legal technology, and so do the people we serve. 

How about we be a little vulnerable and start conversing. Our community will evolve and leadership will arise through participation and action. 

I am headed to the annual Legal Marketing Association Conference (“LMA”) in Atlanta next week. I’ll be joined by Dan Mintz, who heads LexBlog’s sales and business development.

Dan’s a good person who comes with a lot of passion and care. Like me, he sees business development as all about relationships. People buy people, not products. So don’t be surprised if Dan reaches out to say hi or to meet with you – if he hasn’t already. 

With LexBlog’s evolution from solely a professional turnkey blog publishing platform to a legal news and commentary network with over 22,000 law blog contributors, the feel of LMA has changed for us.

As the publisher of legal news and commentary, we’re looking to help, at no cost, law firms and those agencies helping law firms.

  • LexBlog is now publishing and syndicating law firm blogs, at no cost, whether the law firm is using LexBlog’s publishing platform or not. Each lawyer, blog and law firm receives a profile, automatically and at no cost. We’re looking to talk to those law firms whose blogs are not already on LexBlog. I saw a number of large law firms who we reached out to meet in Atlanta have already submitted their blogs.
  • PR and marketing agencies have law firm customers looking for exposure. We want to talk with you about your syndicating your clients publishing to LexBlog – at no cost.
  • Coverage about you from LMA. I have been contacted by a number of companies and PR professionals to report on product or service offerings. I am happy to do so, as relevant and newsworthy, via video or Twitter – you’d be surprised what you can report in 280 characters. LexBlog can then pick up my coverage.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have a business model founded on our managed WordPress platform for the law.

Just as the Washington Post does with the licensing of their own Arc Publishing platform to other newspapers, LexBlog’s legal publishing platform powers blogs, micro-sites, digital magazines and websites for law firms, marketing and PR agencies and other organizations.

Mintz has lined up meetings with a number of law firms and digital agencies. Agencies and PR professionals are looking to use LexBlog’s platform as a more powerful and less costly platform than something they development on their own. 

Socially, I am always happy to get together. Look me up or drop me an email if you’d like to get together. 

Last, but not least, LexBlog’s Beer for Bloggers comes to Atlanta – or at least a version of it – on Monday evening at 5 at Gibney’s Pub, 231 Peachtree St NE – a short walk from the conference hotel. 

Siteimprove and LexBlog sponsoring a joint happy hour for members of the Legal Marketing Association Marketing Technology, PR & Communications, and Social & Digital Media SIGs. All who attend will be eligible for our door prize – an Apple Watch courtesy of Infinite PR

See you in Atlanta.

I use Twitter more to give shout outs to the good stuff being done by others than to broadcast about LexBlog and our doings.

I’ve always had a hard time believing I did something that qualified for bragging. Maybe that’s my Irish Catholic roots and my being an entrepreneur my whole life — nothing’s ever good enough and there’s no reason not to feel guilty.

Selfishly though, it just always felt good to make others feel good about what they’re doing. Lawyers, the organizations supporting access to legal services and the innovators bringing us the future of the law also need an attagirl or attaboy now and again. 

Turns out that sharing the good of others, rather than talking about my company and our products, is the most effective method of business development I have ever used.

Dale Carnegie, in one of the best-selling books of all time, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ laid out six business principles for making people like you – an essential he believe needed for business development.

Each of Carnegie’s points apply to how you as a lawyer can use Twitter to make people like you.

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people. “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.” The only way to make quality, lasting friendships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them and their interests.
  2. Smile. Happiness does not depend on outside circumstances, but rather on inward attitudes. Smiles are free to give and have an amazing ability to make others feel wonderful. Smile in everything that you do.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. “The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.” People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. The easiest way to become a good conversationalist is to become a good listener. To be a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say. Many times people don’t want an entertaining conversation partner; they just want someone who will listen to them.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most. If we talk to people about what they are interested in, they will feel valued and value us in return.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. The golden rule is to treat other people how we would like to be treated. We love to feel important and so does everyone else. People will talk to us for hours if we allow them to talk about themselves. If we can make people feel important in a sincere and appreciative way, then we will win all the friends we could ever dream of.

I use Feedly, a news aggregator, and Twitter lists in most of my use of Twitter. 

Feedly gives me news stories on subjects and from certain sources. Sharing the story, with an excerpt or quote from it, and also mentioning the person’s name (Twitter handle) by attributing the story/quote to them seems to work well. 

Twitter lists enable me to see what the people and organizations I’d like to know are sharing. By retweeting, with an excerpt from the underlying story shared or a kudos to the person or organization in the story – or to the party tweeting – seems to enable me to make friends.

With a decade or two under my belt, I’ve found generating business to be about friendships and people liking each other.

Unlike the “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffett, though, I never realized Dale Carnegie’s course could be the most valuable degree I could get. I’m learning.

What if there was legal news service, ala UPI, that syndicated legal news, information and commentary so that such news and commentary could be published by third-parties?

UPI (United Press International), founded in 1907, at its peak had more than 2,000 full-time employees, 200 news bureaus in 92 countries and more than 6,000 media subscribers, including newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. 

As a kid I thought it incredibly neat that our local daily small town newspaper could pull and publish UPI stories and photos from around the world, in what looked like instantaneous fashion. 

Most of us who are old enough think Walter Cronkite broke the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. Not so, Cronkite got the news from UPI.

The essence of UPI, as well as AP and Reuters is syndication. Collect the news in various formats (text, audio and video) and syndicate it to those in the news business. 

With the decline in the traditional news business, these news services are no longer what that they used to be.

The legal news and journalism business is also on the decline.

  • With declining ad and subscription revenues, it is near impossible for traditional legal publishers to retain top reporters and editors.
  • Open publishing is starting to impact the publishers of treatises, reviews and journals who have traditionally received articles and editorial work for free and sold subscriptions, including to those who wrote and edited the content. 
  • Law firms are paying third parties to distribute the content published by their lawyers, with the third party often taking the Google search and social networking influence of the content. 
  • Third party publishers are asking legal professionals to write for them – for free – and for the third party publisher to retain ownership of the content and its original domain on the net.

What’s killing traditional legal journalism even more is the importance of the individual citizen journalist and what that citizen journalist should own and control in today’s Internet world.

Legal journalism has been democratized. 

  • Legal professionals have a printing press in their hands via a WordPress platform on a desktop or mobile device.
  • Legal professionals are reporting on law blogs – thousands of blogs with tens of thousand of bloggers, over 22,000 bloggers on LexBlog alone.
  • Legal journalism is now created by those in the know – practicing lawyers, law professors, law students and other legal industry professionals, all of whom have first hand knowledge and experience in niche areas.
  • Legal professionals can own and control their journalism (content and domain) without handing it to third parties for publishing or distribution, resulting in loss of influence caused by not having their domain be viewed as the primary domain.

With all of these law blogs, why not have a “UPI” syndicating this legal news and commentary?

The content could be syndicated to subscribers licensing a “syndication portal” displaying the stories the subscriber saw as relevant. 

Subscribers could include associations, law firms and other organization who had a ready reason to license a “syndication portal,” whether it be for member relationships, brand building or otherwise. 

Content could also be syndicated in niche focused “magazines” comprised primarily of syndicated legal news and commentary.

Most important in such legal syndication is it being all about the individual law blogger, not the third party publisher as in days past. Blogger retains ownership and control, with the primary domain for growing and retaining search and social influence being the bloggers.

A hub for legal blogs with the accompanying technology for “syndication portals” could make legal news syndication a reality. 

I’ve been wondering of late how many lawyers have hands on, blue collar work experience. Jobs that shape character for life, as my colleague, Bob Ambrogi, put it to me this afternoon.

I was concerned that if lawyers lacked such experience they wouldnt be as good a lawyer. 

So walking off the ferry yesterday morning I put the question of blue collar work experience before law out on Twitter.

The resulting responses, and the story they in effect created, made for one of the more inspiring legal journalism pieces I’ve “written.” Or at least the kind of legal journalism I do out here on my blog and social media. 

I curated the responses in a Twitter Moments, below. The responses included farming, Army combat medic, fireman, ditch digger and Taco Bell. Thirty-five responses by Wednesday afternoon with more coming in.

As I flipped through the responses/tweets on “Moments” on my iPhone (best way to view) I was consuming journalism in a new form. Inspiring stories on an inspiring medium. 

I simply asked a question, received responses from folks I wanted to hear from, curated the responses on existing and free reporting technology and distributed the “story” on that same free media technology. 

Who’s to say the story, as reported, wasn’t as powerful as a story a full-time reporter would do for a traditional news publication. Admittedly not with the same thoroughness nor accepted news story format of a news site.

But perhaps a more widely accepted format of journalism for a new generation who have grown up with the net and for those of us who rely on social networks for our news.

Check it out. I’ll be adding the responses still coming in.

In reviewing the digital publishing work of state bar associations, I looked at their use of Twitter.

Every state bar association, except one, is using Twitter. Many bars make their Twitter communications prominent on the front page of their website. Most invite people to follow them on Twitter.

Bars, generally, tweet news and information, varying from CLE programs to awards and pro bono/charitable efforts. Some bars have genrerated a decent Twitter following doing this, others have a very small following. 

But what’s missing for most bar associations is the social networking and interaction part of Twitter, what I call engagement.

Twitter, by it’s very definition, is an online news and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as tweets. 

How to interact and engage?

  • Follow the Twitter accounts of member law firm and lawyers who are Tweeting information of help to the public. These members may be even sharing information from their blog posts.
  • Retweet those Tweets with a comment providing your take or giving a kudos to the firm or lawyer for their efforts.
  • Follow the Twitter accounts of state and local reporters who periodically cover social justice, business or legal matters. 
  • Retweet those Tweets with comments and you’ll be in effect be reporting news, giving an atta-girl or atta-boy to the reporters and building a following from reporters.
  • Follow relevant organizations and businesses. May be other state bar associations or metro bar associations. Large businesses such as state organizations or health organizations may have interesting and well followed Twitter feeds. Same for chamber of commerces or other civic groups.
  • Retweet items of interest, again with a comments. Maybe use “what makes me feel good and is likely to make others feel good” being the guide as to what you retweet. 
  • Put these Twitter accounts into a Twitter list so it’s easy to quickly scroll through the Tweets and do the retweeting. Use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to space out the five items you retweeted in 10 or 15 minutes. 
  • You’ll start to see these Twitter users follow you on Twitter and share your tweets with their followers, often a greater following than you have. 

In a short time, you as the State Bar will start to stick out as a shining star. Organizations, not just bar associations, don’t use Twitter much as a social networking and interaction medium. Those who do are welcomed warmly by those of us who do.

You’ll have turned your megaphone into something akin to a handshake where you’ll be received with a welcome and an offer to help you.

You’ll have positioned the brand of the state bar to represent an organization and membership that serves and helps the public. All in a real and authenticate way, a way that establishes trust. 

Many bars are struggling to make themselves relevant to their members and the public. Most are looking to demonstrate the relevance of lawyers to a public which is increasingly attracted to alternative legal services providers not involving lawyers.

Twitter is an excellent medium for bars to increase their relevance with members and the public – so long as Twitter is used for social networking and interaction, in addition to news.

Time and no staffing may be an excuse more than a reality. Bars are doing the engagement I reference.

Look at this item tweeted by a San Francisco lawyer retweeted by the Bar Association of San Francisco

The Florida Bar is well known for its social media efforts. Here’s a tweet where the bar highlighted the work of the Florida State University College of Law.

Some education, mostly by trial and error, will be required. Reprioritization of your communications work will be needed.

The public, especially those looking to learn and network, is using Twitter en masse.

Bars, looking to make themselves more relevant to members, to serve its members and to help the public have little choice other than to use Twitter for online news — and for social networking and interaction. 

My COO, Garry Vander Voort’s post yesterday about MySpace’s deleting their user’s archived content should serve as a wake up a call to legal professionals publishing articles and blog posts to third party controlled systems.

MySpace announced this week, that in addition to other content, over 50 million music tracks were lost. 

Per MySpace:

”As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from MySpace. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

“We apologize for the inconvenience.” More than glib as Vander Voort describes the statement, it’s more of a “tough luck, what do you expect from us, we’re just one of those Internet companies to whom you pay little or nothing, what more could you expect.”

Think companies don’t think that way? Sit in an investors meeting when the projected businesses models didn’t pan out.

There are some brilliant people in legal innovation who are publishing on Medium, an online publishing platform founded by Ev Williams, a co-founder of Blogger and Twitter.

They include Rob Saccone and Ed Walters, writing to and storing their publishing on Medium here and here. Rob has eight articles on Medium and Ed, six. 

Though not publishing often, when you are a widely recognized legal tech entrepreneur and former corporate leader at Thomson Reuters. writing and commenting on “Tech, Data and Innovation Breaking Down the Barriers Between Law Firms and Business,” you are going to be cited. Your pieces are going to be shared in law school and MBA classrooms. 

Same thing applies when you’re the co-founder and CEO of a 22 year old, yet still the fastest growing legal research company — and teach Robots and the Law at two law schools — and publish “Data is the New Oil: Legal Management Lessons from John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.” 

We could blame companies like MySpace or, in the case of legal publishing, Bloomberg Law, for deleting content, but as Vander Voort says, “I think we would be wiser and happier in the long run if we instead used this opportunity to look at our own behavior.”

“Do you care about the content you are posting online?  If so, you should be considerate of where you are posting it.  Is it a closed system?  Do you have the ability to retrieve that content when you want it?  Will it be in a format that is useful for you in the future?”

Look at blogging. 

“A lot of great options exist for open Content Management Systems that allow you access/download to your content in convenient formats. WordPress is by far the largest and most successful example.

Yet people continue to buy into closed systems. Either buying opaque packaged software that hides behind vague promises of security or in closed publishing platforms that strip you of the rights to your own work.“

Get beyond looking at publishing as content marketing to grab attention or to improve search performance. That’s akin to advertising, something we’re not looking to store because of it’s lasting effect on learning, knowledge and advancements in business and the law. 

Vander Voort puts it well. 

“The decision you make on “where” to post content has long term repercussions. Not just for the long term accessibility of your content, but also for the viability of the web itself. 

When millions of files are silenced all at once, it creates a giant hole in the web. It robs of us of our history and confines the talent of many people to the digital void.  The only evidence that they ever existed being tantalizing links that lead to nowhere. 

Maybe you think that the internet works best at a living AND dying entity.  Even if that is the case, you should consider what you do with your own content.  It belongs to you.  Don’t let other companies or “incidents” decides its fate.  Choose your platforms wisely to ensure that you are in control. “

Infrequent writing is not a reason to put your content at risk or inconvenience countless others who are apt go to deadlinks when your content is deleted of the url structure is changed by the third party storing your content. Let alone the personal impact on you as your influence, measured in part by your writings, is reduced when content is deleted and the url structure changes.

Compared to ten years ago, the costs of publishing to a platform that provides you control and long term archival are minimal. And beyond just storage and control, to a software language that is open and ubiquitous so that your content is effectively portable at a minimal cost – think WordPress. 

Each of us are sharing insight and ideas that are looked as valuable by those in the legal industry and beyond, perhaps more valuable than we think. Treat your insight and commentary with the respect it deserves. 

The reason that some law firm IT and legal marketing folks aren’t fans of WordPress is that when they neglect to update it or make ill-advised use of plugins and themes WordPress becomes unsafe.

It really is as simple as that. WordPress is one of the most, if not the most, stable, secure and highly performing content management solutions available to small and large law firms, whether it be for a blog, a microsite or a website. 

Whether WordPress performs, is secure and stable comes down to its set up, maintenance and feature upgrades. Because of this, most law firms, including the largest law firms, are not running their WordPress sites themselves, they are using a managed WordPress platform or host. 

Think of an Indy racing car. Team Penske, perennial favorites at the Indianapolis 500, will be driving three Chevrolet’s this May. 

Chevrolet’s? Sounds too simple of a car to win the 500.  

Highly performing Chevrolet engines delivering 550 to 700 horsepower capable of propelling cars at an average of over 230 miles per hour for 200 laps, 2 1/2 miles each. 

Now hand that Chevy to an amateur or mechanics otherwise skilled and someone is going to get killed, let alone have the car highly performing. 

It makes little sense for a legal marketing company to use a checklist of unfounded WordPress deficiencies to sell their own website software.

WordPress costs more to use.  WordPress, no matter who you use for hosting or a platform, is dangerous to use and always insecure. WordPress is difficult to use. WordPress doesn’t work for search performance. 

That’s like the warning on a hairdryer, “Do Not Use While Sleeping.” Maybe you have good web software, but to say WordPress is dangerous when used incorrectly is silly.  

In a piece at Search Engine Land, Detlef Johnson, the editor of Third Door Media, said it well. WordPress is very safe. Neglecting to set it up right and failing to maintain it, among other things, can make it unsafe. 

Detlef states the obvious. There is no such thing as a 100 percent secure system. WordPress, like any software, needs security updates to operate safely, and those updates, installed correctly, are not going to cause problems.

Take the iPhone, for example. Each time Apple comes out with a new version, it’s accompanied by a new operating system. We’re now on iOS 12. Within days of the original release updates come out for security and performance reasons. Such updates follow regularly. We’re up to 12.1.4.

Look at apps such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn which are updated every couple weeks. Security and performance always top the list you see in the upgrade. 

The key is who is developing the upgrades, who is installing them and on whose platform the upgrades are being installed. Does the company have a strong managed WordPress platform and a record of performance. 

As a lawyer or law firm, make informed choices when it comes to web software and the parties whose web platforms you will be using. But don’t let anyone tell you WordPress is not suitable for law firms. 

If you need any comfort, look at the fact that over one third of the top ten million web properties and over two thirds of sites with a content management system (CMS) are powered by WordPress – including the majority of law firm sites for firms, large and small.