Friday, June 12, 2009

Why Blog? 10.5 Good Reasons


Guest post by Pennsylvania Attorney Cliff Tuttle Jr. 
Attorney Tuttle is the author of the Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk blog and has been a contributor to various legal publications. See the original post



Lawyers are often advised by marketing professionals to blog because it is good marketing. The AVVO blog recently announced an inexpensive and easy to use blogging vehicle for lawyers. If you have a modest marketing budget, investing in a blog will buy you more effective advertising than any other vehicle, including Google pay per click ads.

But if a lawyer never lands a single new client from blogging, the exercise is still worthwhile. Here are 10.5 reasons why:

1. Self education. In order to write a blog piece you need to read and find out what’s going on in the law and in the world. Doesn’t continuous self-education make a better lawyer?

2. Reinforcement of learning. The best way to remember newly-acquired information is to use it. The best way to really understand a concept is to explain it. Blogging forces you to do both.

3. Getting away from the old me-me-me. The essence of a law firm website is telling potential clients how great you are. That can get tiresome — with legal advertising websites rivaling the leading sleep aids for induced drowsiness. A blog looks outward at the world, not inward at the firm.

4. Practice makes perfect. If you wish to be a persuasive and polished writer, you must practice.

5. Busman’s Holiday. It is surprising how relaxing it can be after a day of toil to write something. You may not think so until you start to really get into writing your blog. Meanwhile, you are thinking and writing about work related matters.

6. Making Friends and Influencing People. Through your blog (assuming you are diligent and have good content) I guarantee that you will make the acquaintance of people worth knowing. They will consider you smart, informed and very persuasive — otherwise, they wouldn’t be reading your blog.

7. The Bully Pulpit. When you have a gripe, a beef or a strongly-held opinion, shazam! You have a forum!.

8. Developing New Expertise. All that reading and writing, scrounging for topics and keeping your ear to the ground to identify advancing trends, will cause you to develop and expand expertise on new topics. Moreover, you don’t have to tell anyone you know something about a field of the law, your blog does.

9. Developing a Portfolio. All the posts you ever wrote will be on the internet for a long time. You’ll receive comments popping up on posts written many months or even years ago — ones you’ve actually forgotten you wrote. You’ll find yourself saying to people: “Read my blog post(s) on the subject.”

10. Self fulfillment. You will feel a sense of accomplishment when you post something really good.

10.5 Strange as it may seem, you could be a force in someone else’s life. Someday, if you are lucky, someone will write to you or tell in person that you helped changed his or her life. Teachers often hear it years later from students. When you blog, you are the teacher and who knows who the student may be?
CLT
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A "Brief " Note From the Editor:


If you are thinking of starting a blog, I hope Attorney Tuttle's excellent post gave you a little encouragement as well as some valuable tips. If you haven't seen it yet, his blog Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk is really a great source of information and advice. You may also want to read his humorous story in the comment section of our lawyers who wear bowties post.



If I can interject my two cents, my word of advice is simple. Write about what you know. If you have a sense of humor, pepper some of it into your writings. If you are an expert in a particular practice area, share your knowledge. Take me as an example. I am a wiseass. As a result, my blog reflects it. If you are a real estate attorney, write about your practice area. Why are you writing about Supreme Court developments in securities law? And besides, if you have a busy practice, it is not practical to do such a blog. It requires legal research, time and lots of effort. It's much more interesting and practical to write about what you know. Basically, if you are not somewhat of a legal scholar, your attempts to sound like one will be transparent.

Of course, if you do happen to enjoy a particular area of law and have the requisite knowledge, by all means write about it. Posting to your blog will be more frequent and less of a chore. I can see no real downside to writing a blog. (Unless you happen to curse alot and tend to write about your gushing fascination of marching styles in early 1940s Germany.) Blogging is an opportunity for you to showcase your talent at no cost. It doesn't hurt to try it. You might even like it. It can be a nice stress reliever. Keep in mind ethical concerns especially those concerning attorney-client relationships.

I also remind you not to get discouraged. Someone is probably reading your posts and your readership will probably increase. You never know who might read your posts. Someone with a criminal matter may stumble across your criminal defense blog while doing research for his case. A reporter may be looking for a quote for some story. I was pleasantly taken aback when I learned a judge and a few prosecutors got a kick out of one of my posts. I didn't even think my wife read my blog. As you can imagine, blogging can be a great ice breaker and a nice way to network.


Of course, it's not all flowers and sausages. You may run into a few strange ducks who developed a bit of a Napoleon complex as a result of becoming bloggers. Some seem to equate writing a blog to writing for the Economist or the Harvard Law Review. They simply don't take kindly to newbies and take themselves just a wee bit too seriously. I had my own run in with one of these snooty "aristocrats". In my first few weeks of writing, an established local blogger profiled my foray into the blawgosphere. It was a very nice gesture and gave my site much appreciated exposure. The forum also created an opportunity for other bloggers to chime in with their own thoughts about my efforts.



My favorite critic was one particular New York lawyer who wrote a criminal defense blog. A member of the bar for over 25 years, his website boasted that he was nationally recognized due to his Martindale AV rating, an AVVO 10.0 Superb rating, his entry into the Who's Who of Whoville, and that he made lots of television appearances. This guy knew how to market himself. (Oddly enough, he has a disclaimer that his blog was a no marketing zone.). Accolades aside, he also had some experience teaching law school classes. Great, I thought. Here was an opportunity for an older attorney to give some constructive guidance to a fairly new member of the bar. He could be the Pat Morita to my Ralph Macchio. The Yoda to my Luke Skywalker. The Oprah to my Dr. Phil.

Unfortunately, this learned hand decided to take a more sophmoric approach. Mocking my blog description, he proclaimed that he found "nothing, absolutely nothing that piqued his interest" on my blog. (I picture him saying this in a Thurston Howell like manner while drinking a spot of tea). He ridiculed a poll I posted asking my readers if they were attorneys, legal assistants, law students or judges. "I bet lots of judges hang out there" he sneered. At least I assume he sneered. He has a mustache. It can be hard to tell.

Winthorp & the NL Lawyer
Oddly harsh, I thought. His simple schoolyard barbs did not do him justice. Great Scott! Where did this comical aloofness come from? We're not exactly writing for the NY Times. There is no "write on" requirement to start a blog. We're both just one webclick away from some lady blogging about her cats. After reading the comments, I couldn't help but compare him to Dan Akroyd's character Winthorp in Trading Places. Seeing Eddie Murphy wearing his cravat, Winthorp scoffs at the very notion that someone beneath him would dare wear his Harvard tie. "Like oh, sure he went to Harvard." Apparently, I was Billy Ray Valentine and blogging was this other blogger's Harvard tie.


I wasn't the only one he was kind enough to berate from the saddle of his lofty perch. He decided to ridicule Texas Law professor Wayne Schies for his post on 7 tips for law blogs. He banned the author of "That Lawyer Dude" from his site. (If you haven't read it "That Lawyer Dude" is a great blawg. The author isn't afraid to pull any punches.) He needled Ken Adams from the Adams Drafting Blog.

Even though he was only trying to help me , I couldn't help but curl up in a ball and cry for several days. I stopped shaving and spent my afternoons watching Wheel of Fortune reruns. My diet consisted of a cocktail of Ho-Hos, Twinkies, and Sunny D. I was a wreck. I sat in the dark listening to Phil Collins ballads. I cursed the Gods. Would the tears on my pillow ever dry? Why did this curmudgeonly man of letters feel the need to pick on me? Give me a break. I just started blogging. Maybe if I grew a mustache this guy would respect me.

Eventually, I slowly picked up the shattered pieces of my life. The night terrors have become less frequent. I have begun eating solid food again. Maybe I deserved it. I did quip that NY Law School students tend to rely on the fact that people mistake their school for NYU Law. I also chided the school for boasting that a typewriter was available for student use in career services. How was I supposed to know it was his alma mater? It wasn't mean spirited. I had fondness for the school. I attended NY Law before I left for the greener pastures of Westchester's Pace Law School. NY Law is a fine institution. Why else would Judge Judy have attended there? Ok, so maybe I am picking on this guy just a little bit. It just drives me crazy when people take themselves too seriously.

So don't take it personally. Your blog should portray you as a professional, not a nutcase. Its easy to forget that its available to the entire web. A rambling digital footprint petrified in cyberspace. Try to stay away from the personal insults. It's petty, unprofessional and unbecoming of a lawyer. Plus, you never know if you will run into the other guy in court. - AMB

8 comments:

John said...

Right on the money. It does help reinforce your writing and research skills. Keeps your mind sharp.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip about Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk. I practice in PA. I love the photo of the attorney shaking hands with a T-Rex

I also enjoyed the added editor's note. Especially the part where he was sitting in the dark listening to Phil Collins and your "robot army" I couldn't stop laughing.

I've run into several of these critical "high horse" type bloggers. They take themselves too seriously. Nice to see you have a sense of humor about it.

Anonymous said...

Old Thurston is really off base, you are read by at least one judge even while on vacation (you do not appear before me)

Adrian M. Baron said...

Thank you for the nice comment. It's always nice to hear that people are actually taking the time to read it.

When I get emails from judges, prosecutors, and bar associations, I do get a little nervous about how I am being perceived. Many of my posts have a goofy, tongue in cheek slant. I tend to wonder if somehow this might have a possibile negative impact on my professional life.

Rest assured, when I am in court it's all business. (Well....most of the time.)

Gerry Oginski said...

Adrian- excellent post about blogging. Hang in there and don't be discouraged- ever. Just be yourself. When you do, all those "Thurston Howell" types will go by the wayside.

By the way, love the picture at the top right of your blog...makes me think of a professor I had in law school. I'm sure he's tweeting about us right now.

Gerry

Adrian M. Baron said...

Thanks Gerry. Much appreciated

Irene Olszewski said...

I love your blog (or blawg or whatever you choose to call it). And I love the graphics that accompany your posts. Let the critics do what they do best: criticize. The rest of us will enjoy your work and appreciate you for taking the time to maintain a wonderful blog (blawg).

That Lawyer Dude said...

I don't know why but I just came across this post. Yes I know the mustachioed "blawgger" you speak of. He is of simple mind and frankly an anachronism with an Internet port. Pay no attention to his ramblings and keep writing. Now that I have found you, I will be reading. BTW thank you for the kind comments about That Lawyer Dude Blog.