We’re not going to see conferences of legal professionals in the hundreds, let alone thousands, in size yet this year.

You can glean this from the White House guidelines, which the governors apparently approve of (and make the final decision), and the resulting discussion taking place across mainstream and social media.

Even in stage three, the non-risk population (majority of people) is advised to minimize their time in crowded environments.

The revenue loss for organizations like the American Bar Association, Legal Marketing Association, American Association of Law Libraries, International Legal Technology Association, among others could be significant – registration fees, sponsorships etc.

I’d think organizations and companies doing conferences should announce virtual conferences as soon as possible. My gut tells me there are going to be some innovative and cool ways to do large conferences – with new types of platforms developed now for the years ahead.

There will be revenue losses going virtual, but not an entire wipe out. Plus, there has to be insurance coverage for some losses and act of God clauses in contracts enabling venue cancelations.

Saying nothing, with the implication that your conference will proceed this summer or fall is akin to the folks who said in February and early March that their conference could proceed in March and April if people just washed their hands regularly.

Sad, but a new normal.

The work we’ve been doing at LexBlog on our aggregation and curation software, necessitated by the volume of content published on the pandemic, has me wondering about “aggregated publishing” by law firms and lawyers versus the constant focus on getting eyeballs to to their publications directly.

Leading legal professionals have a ton of niche expertise and publish a ton of insight and commentary to build strong reputations. The same with doctors, scientists and other other professionals.

I am not as familiar with science and medicine as the law, but I do see aggregated publishing there. Rather than every medical school or hospital publishing a separate publication for each niche, the leading medical professionals publish to publications with articles from medical professionals from around the country or the world.

Legal professionals need not give up their independent publications/blogs, especially in the case of passionate and authoritative lawyers whose blogs, and themselves, personally, have established brands.

Just take the legal professional’s publications and get the content aggregated and curated. Curated in the fashion that the Coronavirus Legal Daily curates content from thousands of lawyers. The result is a data base and news publication of relevant content from hundreds or thousands of legal professionals from all the law firms – large, small, law professors, general counsel etc.

For legal professionals who don’t have their own publication, give them the ability to publish directly to the relevant publication of aggregated and curated content.

All of the contributors and organizations will be profiled in the aggregated publication – and for those whose content is being first published on their own publication don’t index the content for Google.

I am thinking of it kind of like the Associated Press model. You have reporters all over the world, but their stories are not published in the “Associated Press” magazine or news paper, their stories are published world over as relevant for hundreds of newspapers .

Curate relevant content from the aggregator for niche publications – Cannabis Legal Daily, Illinois Lawyer Now (Illinois lawyers content for Illinois consumers and businesses).

Legal professionals get the panache of publishing to niche publications (could be in more than one curated publication) without having to go through old school publisher gatekeepers who keep the contributed content, which they did not pay for, behind subscription paywalls. Or paying companies to distribute their content, something many law firms chasing web stats do, after their lawyers have spent hundreds or thousand of dollars in time, writing a piece.

Traditional publishers are struggling, at best, with adopting their models to the net. In addition, at the speed at which technology advances, what worked on the Internet for digital publishers fifteen or twenty years may not be the best solution today.

I was in Boston on 9/11. Unable to fly home to Seattle, I drove my rental car down through Conneticutt onto Northern Manhattan the afternoon of 9/12 or 9/13, I am not sure which.

As a New York City native and an American, I had this fealing, being on the East Coast, I should try to help out. I am not sure what I was thinking I could do.

With the military stationed along the way into Manhatattan, the growing realization there was nothing I could do and probably a tear in my eye, I headed West across the George Washington Bridge into Jersey with the World Trade Center Towers still on fire and a glow on my left.

The Coronovirus pandemic has much the same effect on me. I am not a nurse, doctor, scientist or medical professional.

Heck, LexBlog can’t shut down our factories, and make the products that Governor Cuomo and the federal government are looking for – even if we get a low interest loan from the Governor, they’ll pay a premium for the products – and my COO, Garry Vander Voort, a native of Secaucus, can get us light manfucaturing space there.

But one thing I saw over the last few weeks was a rising to occassion by the American lawyer to help people in this pandemic. I saw ways that LexBlog could help these lawyers by “retooling” some of our software.

You see, this pandemic is raising all sorts of legal issues in all areas of the law. Application of existing laws – code, case and regultory to situations never imagined – or at least of this magnitude. And application of new laws and executive orders arising out of the pandemic.

Unlike 9/11, this pandemic is reaching Americans from farmers, manfucturers, small business owners, insurers, health care organizations, retirees, servers in restraunts and bars, hpspitality workers, nurses, doctors, scientists, patientsm caregivers and everyone else. Coast to coast.

These folks have questions that atr not just health questions. They have legal questions.

I am not a nurse, doctor or healthcare professionalm, but this time I lead a legal publishing company. Unlike other legal publishers, we have the largest network of legal reporters. A network with more expertise and covering more areas of the law and covering more areas of our society than any other publisher.

These 25,000 legal reporters, legal bloggers if you will, are rising to the occasion. And mind you these legal bloggers don’t pay to have their blogs on the LexBlog network. It’s free. Any legal professional can syndicate their copy through the LexBlog at no cost. Think an AP on the law – with the AP covering the pandemic in spades today.

Our first step in helping was get a publication up that aggregates and currates pandemic legal content for consumers, business people, the courts and government agencies. A legal data base of searchable legal insight on the pandemic that is unlike anyone elses.

That’s the Coronavirus Legal Daily (CLD).  More to come on that and related platforms for publishing on the Pandemic we’ll make available to legal professionals, hopefully for free.

The CLD gives you a window into the magnitude of the pandemic publishing going on by legal professionals.

Unsurprisingly, but still staggering to view, is how closely the pandemic legal publishing follows the spread of the virus.

For a simpler breakdown, here are the post counts—again, just posts covering coronavirus and its legal ramifications for people and busineses—each Monday going back 10 weeks:

  • Monday, January 20th: 0 posts
  • Monday, January 27th: 2 posts
  • Monday, February 3rd: 4 posts
  • Monday, February 10th: 7 posts
  • Monday, February 17th: 2 posts
  • Monday, February 24th: 5 posts
  • Monday, March 2nd: 13 posts
  • Monday, March 9th: 41 posts
  • Monday, March 16th: 194 posts
  • Monday, March 23rd: 295 posts

In terms of who is producing that content, CLD gives us that as well. Here are the firms publishing the most on the subject, as of Friday afternoon:

  • Squire Patton Boggs: 226 posts
  • Norton Rose Fulbright: 141 posts
  • Jackson Lewis: 81 posts
  • Reed Smith: 79 posts
  • Epstein Becker Green: 73 posts

The quantity of the posts isn’t as important—it’s the quality, or the specificity, of the content being published. Does it offer practical guidance? Is it tailored to to help people in need of advice?

It’s been a resounding “Yes” from nearly every area of law.

A few examples:

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I am a social creature. I get joy in life doing things with other people, particularly helping people.

Heck, when I stumbled into the net twenty-five years ago in the form of AOL, it was the best of both worlds.  Engaging people and helping thousands of people who had questions on personal injury, workers comp, employment and medical malpractice law.

With the coronavirus pandemic, I became isolated with social distancing and was wondering what I could to help – other than stay in doors. What could a legal publishing company like LexBlog do to stem the virus? I was getting a little down.

My team, as they are apt to do, came through – for me, legal professionals and the public – big time. I got a real lift late today when I saw the Coronavirus Legal Daily.

What’s the Coronavirus Legal Daily?

  • Daily publication of blog posts from legal professionals providing insight and commentary on legal issues arising out of the pandemic.
  • Posts are not just coming from blogs dedicated to the pandemic. The vast majority of the posts are coming from blogs focused whose focus is other than the pandemic which are now writing on pandemic legal matters.
  • The posts are curated from among the contributions of 25,000 legal professions whose blog posts are syndicated across the LexBlog Network.
  • All posts are displayed with the leading posts featured.
  • Each contributing blogger and organization is profiled.
  • An email newsletter with updates goes out daily.
  • A searchable knowledge base of coronavirus pandemic legal matters.
  • In the last twenty-four hours, there were 150 posts on legal matters relating to the pandemic on CV Daily. Kind of amazing.

More than the publication itself and the contributing lawyers, it was the development work done by our team over the last five days, building on top of recent software development, that really gave me a lift.

  • We are no longer just looking at river of news, a magazine or blog, but something that looks much higher-end.
  • Design has evolved dramatically in the last month. Higher end image treatment and focus on highlights as a draw towards featured content is a huge step forward.
  • We have come a long way from LXBN, our old aggregation site, (and even our current LexBlog.com setup).
  • Our technology has never been better. Our RSS aggregator has been written from the ground up internally. Its capability and ability to work with all the issues we encounter with RSS is second to none.  Starting now, our RSS capability exceeds a company that is dedicated to just doing that on WordPress – WP RSS Aggregator.  RSS capabilities such as culling relevant posts by words.
  • We now have the ability to create topical Portals serving needs such as the pandemic, a need that will of course never be equaled, in a way that does not require a huge investment on the curation side of things.  This Portal development work for the CV Legal Daily makes the job of a Portal editor easier and more precise.

My team made tremendous leaps in a very short period. They pushed each other, they cooperated and collaborated. In less than a week, in the name of the pandemic, they put together something that was not “hacky,” but instead has real potential to influence our longer term products.

It was the desire to care, to help and to give meaning to the work of blogging lawyers nation-wide that drove my team. And drove them to create something of meaning in what is unquestionably the greatest challenge of our time.

So on an afternoon of feeling a little lonely, just me and my yellow lab, Louis, working from home, I was presented a gift from the team – and not a gift for me, but one for the public and the legal community.

I’ll kick out further details and plans on the CV Legal Daily over the next week or so.

Do know if you are blogging on the pandemic, no matter the topic of your blog, your posts can be contributed. Just go to the site and sign up. Your blogs RSS feeds will be pulled in and the relevant ones included and featured.

The challenges most of us are facing with the pandemic, such as social distancing, are minimal compared to someone getting the virus, the small businesses being closed, workers without jobs, people losing their health insurance, and people not being able to care for their loved ones because they’re prohibited from entering a hospital, rehab center or nursing home.

Those of us in the legal profession and legal industry (LexBlog included) have an obligation to lead. Working in the law, we’re the champions of the less fortunate. Other industries don’t have the same obligation.

LexBlog has seen lawyers rise to the occasion by providing guidance and insight, via blogging, on legal matters arising out of the pandemic. The public, their clients, and their client’s customers, employees and patients are hurting – and confused, at best, on multiple legal fronts. The lawyers are responding.

The impact of the virus covers all types of areas of the law – insurance, disability, health, employment, landlord tenant, real estate, banking, civil and criminal procedure and more.

In addition to existing laws and regulations, states, via their governors and executive agencies – in addition to the federal government, are given broad authority to act through executive order.

The interpretation of these laws and executive orders will be left to our nation’s lawyers. Without the lawyers sharing insight – one to one and through sharing their intellectual capital on the net – businesses and the public would be clueless.

While other businesses are hurting – if in Seattle, just walk through downtown, Pike Place or Belltown to see the emptiness – LexBlog is getting the opportunity to rise to the occasion.

We’re now seeing upwards of one hundred posts a day on the coronavirus pandemic our network. The lawyers publishing on the pandemic to our network represent by far the largest group of legal journalists reporting on the subject. No one can match them.

So it was time for Lexblog to get to work to shine a light on their insight and make available to consumers, businesses and other lawyers the best legal commentary on the pandemic.

As of today:

  • LexBlog is currently manually aggregating content and feeding it own “channel on the coronavirus.”
  • You can get there via http://coronaviruslawdaily.com/ but it is redirecting.
  • Things started off slow. A handful a day, but now we are seeing over one hundred posts a day related to Coronavirus/Covid-19.

As of next Wednesday:

  • We will have a standalone publication, Coronavirus Legal Daily, running on LexBlog’s Syndication Portal product.
  • Features are being developed that will enable the Portal to pull not only sources, such as a blog, but also posts on a subject, no matter the focus of a blog publication.
  • This portal feeds off our total community. If you have joined LexBlog as a contributing blogger in the past (it’s free), you can get in. All you need to do is write about Coronavirus/Covid-19.
  • This new portal will scan for posts about Coronavirus/Covid-19. It will only publish those posts from any author on our network (publications running on LexBlog WordPress platform or on another publishing platform) who is writing about the subject.
  • A directory will populate based on what bloggers/publications/organizations are writing about Coronavirus/Covid-19 (there are still pending questions about how this will setup).
  • Every day we will feature posts from authors on the front page and our social media.
  • Those posts will also go out in our Coronavirus Legal Daily newsletter, which will go out daily (M-F at 11am)

Most lawyers work piecemeal by the hour. We develop skill in a niche. Develop a book of business or market to get more work in the area. And then do the work, though varying in some degree, time and again.

I am not saying that’s bad.  As lawyers, we do a lot of good things for people, their families and their communities. We’re integral to a society of laws.

LexBlog does much of the same. Develop technology and use it to deploy solutions for customers – though we’ve always operated on a subscription basis. As discussed below, we’re evolving from that way of business.

But as Amazon showed again this week with launching a business selling an automated checkout solution to retailers, there is a different way of making money. Develop a process and the technology to support it, use it yourself in your own business and then license the technology/solution to other parties.

In Amazon’s case, opening up Amazon Go or Amazon Go Grocery stores need not be the only way to grow revenues.

Amazon can license their solution – the technology behind its cashier-less convenience stores to other retailers. Retailers that have to rent store space, pay employees and incur all the other costs and risks of operating a retail operation, that Amazon will not have to do.

From Reuters’

The world’s biggest web retailer said it has “several” signed deals with customers it would not name. A new website Monday will invite others to inquire about the service, dubbed Just Walk Out technology by Amazon.

The highly anticipated business reflects Amazon’s strategy of building out internal capabilities – such as warehouses to help with package delivery and cloud technology to support its website – and then turning those into lucrative services it offers others.“

Amazon wasn’t in the retail grocery business a short time ago, and still isn’t in most of the country, let alone the world. But it’s already leading the market for retail without cashiers, a market that U.S. venture firm Loup Ventures estimates could grow to $50 billion, per Dastin.

Customers don’t like standing in line and Amazon is going to license a solution with 24/7 support to third parties. Third parties who may have to use such a solution,  just like retailers did to sell on the Internet after Amazon started it all, twenty plus years ago.

Licensing your own process and tech solution as a way to bring in greater revenue than using your own process and solution to facilitate your own business is nothing new to Amazon and Jeff Bezos.

  • Amazon started licensing it’s technology for companies to use in setting up online retailing. Think back to Toys R Us which built it’s own online stores, as opposed to accepting Amazon’s technology. I think they’re out of business.
  • AWS. Amazon had a ton of excess server space so it started licensing the space to companies like LexBlog which started using it fifteen years ago because it was cheaper and more powerful than operating our own servers.
  • Stores and businesses selling on Amazon. The vast majority of consumer based retailers sell on Amazon. Rather than Amazon doing the fulfillment and shipping, the retailer does. Amazon is licensing everything else for a cut.
  • Washington Post. Jeff Bezos buys the paper and builds a heck of tech solution to run and publish it. The Post then licenses the solution and technology to other newspapers, including the Boston Globe, LA Times and the Chicago Tribune.

I’ve long looked at the Amazon model as a good model for LexBlog’s publishing business.

We’re managed WordPress platform at our core. A WordPress platform with a lot of customization for ease of use in legal publishing. A managed platform in that we’re managing the platform from the server operation to core upgrades to feature enhancements to training and support.

Without this core technology we couldn’t offer a professional turnkey blog solution, operate LexBlog.com or be offering a Syndication Portal product for publishing aggregated and curated content.

LexBlog now needs to start looking at what we offer as SaaS solution for legal publishing. And to start looking at whether we are selling it as such. Our solution may be more valuable to our customers and potential customers – as well as LexBlog in framing its delivery as such, as opposed to selling one “site” as a time.

In addition, legal publishers, without as powerful a managed WordPress solution can begin licensing our solution. We’ve built it and could build the infrastructure to support such deployment.

I started with lawyers, and think the Bezos thinking could be relevant here as well. What systems and processes, let alone technology, can law firms license to corporations and other law firms. Maybe the same thing can be done with software built by some firms.

There may be more revenue in licensing systems, processes and, for some firms, technology than in selling legal services.

LinkedIn, Reddit, or Facebook, what will it be as a learning center on legal blogging? All are options.

I’m a big believer in the open net for purposes of discussion, asking questions, learning the advancement of ideas.

I suppose this comes from the wonderful discussions that blossomed on niche areas of the law across Prodigy, Compuserv and AOL in the 1990’s.

Those we were not technically “open,” you needed to log in with a user name and number. We also had bulletin board systems (BBS) with only limited discussion on legal.

But these places, back in the day when browsers were not widely used and we were years from having search, were the open net. Millions of people like me took to the net seeking help and to help others. The net was a wonderful place then.

Mind you, I am talking lawyers, consumers, small business people, in-house counsel, corporate executives. law librarians, law students legal professionals and more taking part in these open discussions in the 1990’s. No one was waiting around for bar associations and the like to tell us it was okay to talk to others and that it was okay to carry those conversations onto the Internet.

LinkedIn was founded not long after we started LexBlog. When LinkedIn groups started, we jumped on the name Legal Blogging Group.

The LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group took off. Thirty to sixty people applied to join every week – the group was not open to all, you applied so that we (I) could see that the person was “legit.” Spam from companies selling to lawyers was not near as big but it was there.

In addition to people finding the group through LinkedIn, anyone who inquired of using LexBlog’s publishing platform received an invite to the group. Good opportunity for them to learn more about legal blogging from legal bloggers – and goodwill generated for LexBlog buy providing a forum for learning.

With some exceptions, groups seemed to die out on LinkedIn. In the Legal Blogging Group we had a ton of people who just wanted to push their blog posts to others by posting them to the group. LinkedIn facilitated this spamming by enabling people to cross post across groups – legal marketing companies became the biggest violators.

With the spam and LinkedIn’s apparent lack of work on groups, we just didn’t see a lot of activity and new members. The group became an after thought for me to clean up now and again.

But a month or so back I hit a button on the privacy settings to the group. More people started joining.

My gut says the algorithm work Microsoft is doing now that it owns LinkedIn is also causing a rise in the group’s relevance and visibility.

Makes me wonder if we can revive the group into something that resembles the days past. Place for questions, answers, resources and getting to know people. I’ll confess not a bad a place to generate business – not by selling, but by building a reputation as a company that cares and helps.

As much as LinkedIn is there, one cannot say come here or there to talk and get support. The net doesn’t work that way.

Town squares blossom all over the place. As a business or someone who likes to help people, you need to go where the people are. No matter whether that’s where you like to hang out. No matter if you don’t feel comfortable there. It’s not about you – it’s about the people you should care for.

And forget about, “that’s for personal use, this is for professional use.” Tell that to Starbucks, people talk about all types of things there – lawyers talking to clients even.

For legal blogging discussion, we have to look at Reddit. Reddit has a vibrant “subreddit” on blogging.

I answer a lot of blogging questions on Reddit. Not on legal blogging, but on blogging in general.

Blogging, across all verticals, has more in common than not. Legal professionals, as much I’m sure they would think the subreddit was not for them could learn a lot.

Could we get a subreddit on legal blogging going? I’m not sure. More questions on the law are asked and answer on Reddit than anywhere on the net, but I don’t know if we can get the traction.

Facebook is used by more people in the world as a social network than any other medium. We’re talking billions and that includes about 95% of legal professionals, for both personal and professional reasons.

Facebook’s algorithms rock. You only see what’s of value and of relevance to your life. Blow that off, by saying it’s only junk, you’re only boasting of your own ignorance. Used effectively, nothing works as well for networking (learning included) as Facebook.

Facebook is also working of late to improve its groups. The features of the groups, the way the group’s relevant posts integrate into our personal Newsfeeds and more.

As I started my thinking here, it was to announce a revival of the LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group. That’s part of the equation for helping legal professions, but Reddit and Facebook are going to have to considered. They’re where people are congregating as well.

And what about YouTube – it’s just an inch behind Facebook in its size as a social media network.

Stay tuned.

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Big thanks to Sheppard Mullin and its CMO, Vickie Spang, for working with LexBlog to be the first law firm in the country to launch a digital magazine featuring the curated insight and commentary of the firm’s lawyers.

Rather than additional work for the firm’s lawyers “In the Know” aggregates and curates, via an editor, blog posts and other pieces available via an RSS feed.

Original pieces may be published as well, whether from the firm’s lawyers and leadership who do kit blog or from professionals outside the firm, whether they be in-house counsel, business people or other authorities.

Each of the contributors has their own profile with their background and body of work. A lot of inspiration there to keep those bloggers blogging. 😉

Sheppard Mullin’s “In The Know” runs on LexBlog’s Syndication Portal product, a SaaS publishing solution that includes free support, free core upgrades and free new features. Portals run on technology comparable to the software running LexBlog.

Sheppard Mullin, was one of, if not the first, of LexBlog’s large law firm clients. I remember very well where I was sitting when they called and said if we start buying five or ten of “these” blogs can we get a discount? Sold, was my response.

It was one of those feeling all entrepreneurs get. “This is going to really work. People like what we created. They’ll pay for this. We can make it.”

Not for a minute have I grown to big for my britches. I still pinch myself to make sure it’s not dream when we come up with a new idea, thinking it’ll work, but never knowing for sure until we bring it to market and see people take money out of their market and put it in our pocket.

It’s been that way with Portals, already running bar association sites with more to come. And now we’re going to move Portals to the law firm market.

Thanks Vickie, you have been a good friend over the years, and to the entire team at Sheppard Mullin. You guys have been true innovators. It’s been a true honor to serve you along the way.

No surprise that professionals on the LexBlog network are reporting and commenting on the coronavirus pandemic. The question arises how LexBlog, as leading legal publisher should “report” on the pandemic by virtue of aggregating and curating relevant coverage.

When we started running LexBlog.com as a publication of aggregated and curated blog posts shining a light on our bloggers, as opposed to a marketing site about our products and services, our thinking was that LexBlog.com would be a legal publication where people would come and read stories – in addition to reading stories on the original publication, the blogger’s blog.

We talked of  “dressing up” pages of LexBlog.com akin to what you’ve seen in newspapers in days past. I still remember the green and orange pages of certain newspapers being the sports section. Internal “magazines” were discussed.

But can LexBlog expect people to naturally come to topical or tag sections on topics such as the coronavirus pandemic. Some people might, but my gut tells me the readership will not be high.

We’re not a traffic centric, advertising supported, or pay to play (lawyers and organizations pay to get their content distributed), but we are in the business of getting valuable legal insight and commentary out there, inspiring our network bloggers (whether they are paying us or not), and perhaps most importantly experimenting with what the future of legal publishing should be.

So we don’t need to go to pains to drive traffic to a channel page. We can look at other means of news distribution.

Things as simple as a daily newsletter of curated content could work.

Perhaps something more innovative would be to drive such publishing through our Syndication Portal solution.

Via a Portal, LexBlog launches an independent publication on the coronavirus pandemic. The stories come from the leading legal professionals in the world.

If we’re lacking existing coverage on the LexBlog network, we go out and get coverage from legal professionals from around the world. Find publications with a RSS feed that we believe would contribute to our pandemic coverage, and recruit them. Not every one of their stories needs to be on coronavirus, we can tag those that are for Portal inclusion.

The draw and excitement of publishing to one of the world’s leading coronavirus legal publications is a strong one. Contributing to the great good, visibility, directory inclusion in the coronavirus portal site and, as it should be, paying nothing for inclusion and distribution as a reporter/blogger.

LexBlog’s cost is minimal in running such a portal and it can generate a lot of excitement for our team. We’re one of the world’s leaders on coronavirus pandemic legal coverage right from our small Seattle-based team.

The revenue to LexBlog could come from multiple channels – sponsorships, greater Portal sales as publishers see its potential and greater subscription sales of our blog publishing solution, among others. We’d also gain partners in traditional legal publishers who fear the Portal model.

There may be good reason to fear the syndication model. Go find the best and brightest reporting on niche subjects such as coronavirus and syndicate their copy at no significant cost to LexBlog as the publisher.

The blog publishers, unlike traditional publisher’s reporters and editors, already have a means of earning a living. The traditional publishers couldn’t even garner the amount of such coverage – and from such authorities.

In internal LexBlog discussions, I’m harping about doing what other publishers are not. Innovation is not likely to come from the past. What’s being done by other publishers on the net is largely failing.

Whatever we do, let’s do something different. If it doesn’t work, we stop doing it and move on.

My gut says Portals are a good model for publishing on niches such as the coronavirus pandemic.

With over 25,000 legal columnists in the form of legal bloggers, LexBlog is no doubt in the the publishing business.

Our business model has never been around subscriptions, advertising or, God-forbid, charging people to distribute their content. Our business model has always been licensing publishing software.

A blog publishing platform, a portal platform for syndication and a ‘spot’ publishing solution for publishing ‘into’ LexBlog and onto our syndication partners. All in a SaaS model, where our software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.

Turns out, per a a piece on media trends at Axios, the business of licensing publishing software is becoming increasingly competitive as more digital publishers look to raise money and develop more content management software and technology products.

From Axios:

  • Minute Media, a holding group that owns digital sports and entertainment websites like The Players’ Tribune and The Big Lead, announced Wednesday that it has raised $40 million in venture capital on a post-money valuation is more than $500 million, most of which will be used to expand its business by selling publishing software as a service.

Many modern media companies have built some sort of tech product, mostly publishing software, to license to other companies. Today, there are many companies that offer different publishing solutions.

  • The Washington Post created Arc, which is licensed to dozens of publishers, from small weekly publications to The Boston Globe.
  • Vox Media sells a suite of tech products ranging from its content management system, Chorus, to Coral, an open-source comments publishing platform that it acquired from the Mozilla Foundation last year. It also acquired a content management business called Clay when it bought New York Media last year.
  • Axios is reportedly looking to sell a new CMS-type of service to big companies, per Business Insider.
  • Hearst Media licenses MediaOS, a proprietary content management system that also serves as a data analytics platform.

Though, per Axios, most have not been able to grow their non-media businesses to deliver on the promise of tech-style scale, LexBlog is doing so.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, one never feels secure, LexBlog is scaling with technology, processes and software. With a small and nimble team, we’re running over 1,000 niche publications, and growing on our publishing software and aggregating and curating content from over 25,000 citizen publishers – legal publishers/bloggers.

Talking to another publishing partner today, discussing our model, he said I’m starting to see it, you’re in the “mechanics” of publishing, and licensing the software to support it.

Traveling to Europe a few times for work over the last couple years made me realize just how myopic I’ve been in looking at the size our market.

Until traveling overseas, I looked at the U.S. as our market. We could go down and up in law firm size for customers, we could develop new products and we could look at customers other than lawyers and law firms, such as organizations.

All the while though I am swimming in the same sized pond, competing against the same crowd.

The competing crowd, which once blew off blogs as ill fitting for legal, selling at too low a price to make any money, and not understanding blogging themselves as an impediment, has gotten a lot bigger. Not that our blog product isn’t better than the competition’s, it is, but unknowing people buy inferior stuff.

Introduce our products overseas and our pond grows by multiples. The U.S. is only the third largest country in the world. Introducing our products into the main five Anglo countries, alone, would increase our market by 50%. Let alone a world market which would grow our market by multiples.

Not say selling overseas doesn’t have its challenges.

  • Smart law firms in the states have built their reputation and grown business by sharing their intellectual capital for a long time. Blogs just changed the way it was done. It’ll take some leg work to see how open lawyers overseas are to giving away their intellectual capital. My gut says they are, particularly in the UK, just a decade behind the states in doing so online. A decade behind is good for us.
  • Cultures are totally different from country to country. The legal and business culture will differ as well. When Howard Schultz took Starbucks overseas he did so with partners in the foreign countries. When he went alone, I think it was in Germany, Starbucks first entry was a failure.
  • Legal ethics rules. What’s allowed? What isn’t? What apologies should be drawn to cross the chasm before acceptance?
  • LexBlog is a known and trusted brand in the States. That’s not the case overseas. Sure I was recognized at some legal tech and innovation conferences in Europe. But I don’t believe I can get in the door of large and credible law firms, by emailing that I am in town and I’d be remiss if I didn’t let their leaders pick my brain on blogging and networking through the net.
  • Sales people. Who’s going to travel overseas, regularly? Is there someone located overseas already who could help us?

We do have some things going for us.

  • Our platform is language agnostic. LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform is being used by customers in multiple languages, including in Chinese dialects and in Arabic. The front and backend can easily be set per language.
  • LexBlog is publishing data in the form of text and meta data to give the text more morning. This is in contrast to legal publishers having to interpret, index and publish the law, and its nuances. Our platform customers interpret and publish the law.
  • WordPress owns the content management system (CMS) market with nearly 70% of the websites using a CMS running WordPress. Our market knows and uses WordPress. What we’ll deliver will be intuitive and easy to run.
  • LexBlog scales. We believe, to a fault, in the art of a product, versus an agency model. We can deliver and support growth – including regular core upgrades and feature enhancements.

Thinking about foreign expansion, we may have something on hand to gain a beachhead overseas. Our Syndication Portal product.

We approach an organization comprised of lawyers, an equal of a bar association in the States. Take The Law Society in the UK.

We look at the existing publications kicking out an RSS feed being published by members of The Law Society. Our Portal product would generate an aggregated display of content (later curated), with profiles of the professionals, their organization and their publication.

The benefits to The Law Society include shining a light on members, a body of law for legal professionals and the public, and new publishing revenue for The Law Society.

For LexBlog we gain recognition as a trusted publisher and a position to grow the number of legal professionals blogging or amendable to moving existing publishing to our platform. Those professionals looking for additional exposure overseas beyond the UK, would pick the exposure up through LexBlog’s growing network.

Who knows, maybe I am missing something here. But it seems a return visit to The Law Society in London is in order – after doing some leg work on UK legal publications with an RSS feed. If there are few, if any, we may need to develop an option B.