Considering the restrictive nature of the ethics rules regarding attorney communications and advertising, and that the blogs on every legal specialty already out there, not to mention the fact that the billable hours won’t bill themselves, it is a rational decision for many lawyers to shy away from maintaining a blog. But that’s a shame. If you don’t blog, you forgo quite a bit of upside, which more than makes up for the hardship involved. Consider the following major benefits that come from consistent blogging:
- Staying in fighting shape. Like any contact sport, one’s writing is best when practiced consistently. Setting aside the fact that writing is key to your marketing and business development efforts, consider that the law is a writing profession – writing is the instrument with which most of us make a living. But there are fallow periods, during which we don’t have a constant stream of writing projects, and that’s when we can get out of shape. If we’ve gone a few months without a substantial writing assignment, our next bout with an empty page will be painful. But maintaining a blog with a weekly posting schedule forces you to write. Stick to this practice, and the next brief or memo won’t seem like a very big deal. The empty page will have no psych-out powers over you.
- Subject matter expertise. Regular blogging provides encouragement and a framework to stay current with new developments in your field. A major new case decided by an appeals court is a no-brainer topic for a blog post. But to be able to write this post, you’ll have to read the decision and actively work with it to summarize it and say something intelligent about it. Because you’re actively engaging with this decision, you are much more likely to retain its salient points. And having that kind of memory is part of building expertise.
- Street cred. Even if there are zillion blogs in your specialty, and your entire readership consists of your mother and your ever-faithful best friend, your blog is a record of your expertise. You better believe that potential clients will check it out, and if it’s written well, it’ll open doors. For example, one attorney I know snagged a major multi-national client after inhouse counsel read the attorney’s blog and agreed to an in-person meeting. That meeting was by no means a sure thing, and the blog pushed it into happening.
- Calling card. Most people think of a blog as an instrument through which they communicate their writing to their audience (and if they’re lucky, get complimentary feedback back). But a blog allows for much more interactivity, such as:
- Reaching out to someone you want to connect with and ask for an interview.
- Reaching out to start a conversation by sending that person a post you wrote about his or her company or interests or area of expertise.
- Developing relationships with fellow legal bloggers whose specialties may be of interest to the same audience as yours. This may lead to opportunities for connecting with a wider readership by guest blogging.
- Your blog will evidence your writing ability (and your ability to stick to deadlines) if you ever decide to pitch a writing project to wider-circulation publications.
Technically speaking, it has never been easier to start a blog, This article walks you through all the steps. If you don’t want to set up a blog yourself, you can have a professionally designed and branded blog for as low as $500.
Don’t get bogged down in irrelevancies such as picking the “right” color schemes or fonts (this advice comes from experience; how I wish I could get that week of my life back…). And don’t be discouraged if you don’t see much traffic at first. Your blog likely will not catch fire immediately, and it will take months of consistent blogging to start seeing an uptick in visitors and interactions. But if you keep at it, and use the platform your blog provides creatively, you’ll soon see major dividends.